By the looks of it the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is on course for yet another unremarkable General Election on 23 January 2022, with the projected outcome far from making major alterations to the political landscape.
The right-wing National Unity Party (UBP) is predicted to emerge first with the most Members of Parliament, but it is highly unlikely they will have enough seats to form a majority in the 50-seat parliament. The left-wing Republican Turkish Party (CTP) is set to again be the runner-up.
The smaller parties are going to share the rest of the votes and seats. The country will again end up with a national assembly that is filled by five or six parties, and so unable to produce a stable government.
This, alongside a hugely disaffected electorate, has led to a considerable chunk of voters backing a call to boycott the elections, in part, to punish the political parties for failing to put forward solid policies to bring about much needed change, while expecting people to support them.
From what we can see so far, the election manifestoes are primarily based on the TRNC economy. The parties have tried to explain how they will set the economy straight using financial jargon that no one understands, while seeking influencer backing from opinion leaders and businesspeople through personal favours and donation negotiations.
To cut a long story short, nothing is going to change regarding domestic politics in the northern part of the island – and the voters know it.
“I am deeply surprised not to see any political party putting up a shiny, huge billboard saying that they are determined to negotiate the full opening of Varosha in line with the UN Security Council resolutions in exchange for direct flights to and from Ercan Airport”
Strikingly the Cyprus Problem, which has previously been an important marker differentiating the mainstream parties, has been hidden amongst the multiple pages of their 2022 Election manifestos. Apart from the ‘two state solution’ and ‘one single federal Cyprus’ slogans, there is not much meat on the bones from the political communication experts that are running the campaigns.
Despite focussing on the economy, the parties have failed to present any significant ideas and possess next-to-no tools to even marginally counter the deep economic crisis that has been triggered by Turkey’s financial issues, and imported to the TRNC through the use of the Turkish Lira.
The parties and prospective deputies would be on stronger ground turning their attention on how to resolve the long-running Cyprus Dispute, but currently candidates prefer to shy away from mentioning their thoughts.
I am deeply surprised not to see any political party putting up a shiny, huge billboard saying that they are determined to negotiate the full opening of Varosha in line with the UN Security Council resolutions in exchange for direct flights to and from Ercan Airport.
If I was one of those party political advisers, instead of writing a 50-page manifesto explaining how I was going to manage the economy knowing that I am not in full control of the TRNC’s Central Bank to manage interest rates, lack my own national currency that I can use as a monetary tool, am incapable of creating a proper budget that I can tweak for fiscal policies, I would just say that I was going to work on ‘Varosha for direct flights’ and do my best to hit the jackpot.
All the ingredients are there.
You have a major holiday destination that has been deserted and is now in ruins, a Greek Cypriot economy that could get a major boost through the redevelopment of the area, and a Turkish Cypriot economy that desperately needs direct flights, and whatever slice it could cut from the multibillion Euro construction that is due to take place. On the other hand, international funds, which are sitting in Swiss Banks, London and New York, are desperately looking for projects to bet their money on, while the EU, UN, and other international players are ready to facilitate this juicy dish with trimmings and condiments.
The only thing we need is a couple of bold chefs to cook up this culinary feast.
Rasıh Reşat (pictured left) is a London born Turkish Cypriot journalist, columnist and TV commentator. He has run various newsrooms in a career spanning three decades. He is primarily known for his astute live coverage of the Cyprus Summits over the years. He currently is producing and presenting a daily podcast for TRNC news portal Haber Kıbrıs and is a columnist for TRNC daily Kıbrıs Postası.