Sixty three days after the collapse of coalition rule by the National Unity Party (UBP) and People’s Party (HP), the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) finally has a new government in place.
A dramatic turn of events over the past 48 hours saw three MPs resign from HP, paving the way for a new minority government to be formed between UBP, the Rebirth Party (YDP), and the Democrat Party (DP).
Earlier today, Ersan Saner, the acting leader of the conservative UBP, which is the largest party in the TRNC Parliament, presented details of his new all-male cabinet to President Ersin Tatar in the TRNC White House.
As in the previous UBP-HP government, eight of the ministries are to be held by UBP members, one by YDP, and the remaining two by DP.
The new cabinet
The new cabinet led by Ersan Saner is as follows:
Prime Minister – Ersan Saner (UBP acting leader)
Economy and Energy Minister / Deputy Prime Minister – Erhan Arıklı (YDP leader)
Agriculture & Natural Resources Minister – Nazım Çavuşoğlu (UBP)
Education and Culture Minister – Olgun Amcaoğlu (UBP)
Finance Minister – Dursun Oğuz (UBP)
Foreign Affairs Minister – Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu (UBP)
Health – Ali Pilli (UBP)
Home Affairs Minister – Kutlu Evren (UBP)
Transportation and Public Works Minister – Ünal Üstel (UBP)
Tourism and Environment Minister – Fikri Ataoğlu (DP leader)
Work and Social Pensions Minister – Koral Çağman (DP)
Eyebrows have been raised at some of the UBP appointments and also some of the omissions.
There is no room in the new cabinet for Faiz Sucuoğlu, formerly the Work and Social Pensions Minister, and Hasan Taçoy, who was dropped as Economy and Energy Minister.
The two men were due to face each other in the run-off for UBP leader last month before the party unexpectedly called off the contest.
Former Foreign Affairs Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu, who lost his seat in the 2018 General Election, returns to the role as a ‘technocrat’.
Known for his hard line Turkish nationalist views, Ertuğruloğlu was expelled from UBP in 2010 after deciding to stand against his party leader Derviş Eroğlu in the Presidential Election in the same year, which Eroğlu went on to win.
Many had expected UBP’s rising talent Oğuzhan Hasipoğlu to be the new Foreign Minister. Hasipoğlu heads the TRNC Parliament’s External Affairs and Legal Affairs Select Committees, and also leads the TRNC’s cross-party Parliamentary delegation to the European Parliament.
Another controversial appointment is that of Ünal Üstel. The former Tourism Minister was sacked in June for his role in the “Jet scandal”.
The veteran politician had given permission for a private jet load of people from Turkey to break the TRNC’s strict lockdown entry conditions for a leisure trip. His ministerial position became untenable when his efforts to dress the visit up as a business investment mission was exposed by left-wing paper Yenidüzen. Üstel returns as Transport Minister.
A ministerial role for Çağman, of the centre-right DP, has seemingly helped the MP overcome his previous public objections to a pact with pro-Turkey right wing YDP.
The three-way coalition have 24 MPs between them in the fifty-seat TRNC Parliament, with newly elected President Ersin Tatar’s seat vacant. It’s not clear if a by-election will be held before the expected General Election in October 2021.
How the TRNC ended its 8-week constitutional crisis
The protocol signed by the three Parliamentary parties brings to an end a constitutional crisis that had paralysed the TRNC for the past eight weeks due to an absence of government. Without a functioning cabinet, vital decisions about the economy and expenditure could not be taken, leaving many businesses already struggling due to the pandemic on the brink of bankruptcy.
The end of the crisis and the formation of the UBP-DP-YDP coalition was only possible because of the support of three HP MPs, who had to resign from their party to do so.
The three – Dr.Hasan Topal, Hasan Büyükoğlu and Mesut Genç – announced their reasons for breaking off from their party in a press conference in the TRNC Parliament on Monday.
Genç told the press the trio had decided to resign from their party due to its inflexibility in the cross-party negotiations and the “urgent need for a government” to ‘end the chaos in the TRNC’. They will continue in Parliament as independent MPs.
HP withdrew from the government on 6 October following the former Prime Minister Ersin Tatar’s announcement to open Varosha/Maraş to the public during a visit to Ankara without consulting his junior coalition partner.
The development occurred days before the Presidential Election where both Mr Tatar and the Deputy Prime Minister and HP leader Kudret Özersay were standing as candidates.
TRNC Parliamentary Make-Up
The current split of 50 seats in the TRNC Parliament are as follows: UBP 20 (former Prime Minister Özgürgün is an MP, but due to allegations of financial impropriety, has failed to attend Parliament to date), CTP (Republican Turkish Party) 12, HP 6, TDP (Communal Democracy Party) 3, DP 2, YDP 2, independent 4, and one vacant seat.
Main image, top of the leaders of the new TRNC coalition (L-R): DP leader Fikri Ataoğlu, UBP acting leader Ersan Saner, and YDP leader Erhan Arıklı