Main opposition candidate Sami Özuslu wins TRNC by-election

Sami Özuslu of the centre-left Republican Turkish Party (Cumhuriyetçi Türk Partisi, CTP) has beaten twelve other candidates to win today’s Parliamentary by-election in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC). Özuslu secured 43.73% of the vote to win.

The journalist turned politician convincingly beat his nearest rival, businessman Ali Başman of the ruling National Unity Party (Ulusal Birlik Partisi, UBP), with more than 5% difference between the two candidates’ share of vote.

The TRNC’s two most populated cities came out strongly for Özuslu – the capital city Lefkoşa (49.96% to 34.06%) and Girne (48.06% to 34.15%) — propelling the CTP candidate to electoral victory as  an MP in the TRNC Parliament.

Özuslu and CTP’s by-election success takes the main opposition’s total number of MPs to 19 in the 50-seat TRNC Parliament. The three-way coalition government retains a strong majorty with its 29 seats, with the result unlikely to result in any change the government.

The full results from today’s by-election – yet to be verified by the Supreme Electoral Board [Yüksek Seçim Kurulu, YSK] – is as follows:

Sami Özuslu (CTP): 26,288 / 43.73%

Ali Başman (UBP): 22,842 / 38.00%

Serhan Aktunç (DP): 3,968 / 6.66%

Figen Yaman Lesinger (YDP): 2,802 / 4.66%

Umut Ersoy (Bağımsızlık Yolu / Independent Way): 781 /1.30%

Tacan Reynar (TDP): 748 / 1.24%

Abdullah Korkmazhan (Independent): 771 / 1.28%

Talip Sancar (Independent): 514 / 0.85%

Çetin Sadeli (Independent): 498 / 0/83%

Mert Taşkın Independent): 410 / 0.68%

Meriç Erülkü (Independent): 299 / 0.50%

Alper Özsakınç (Independent): 116 / 0.19%

Nazım Özsever (Independent): 80 / 0.13%

Turnout was extremely low for the TRNC, just 30.58%, announced YSK President Narin Ferdi Şefik earlier this evening, with just 62,876 people – less than one in three eligible voters – casting their ballot in the by-election.

The YSK President called it “a sad turnout”, adding that she couldn’t remember such “low participation” in the last five years.

The by-election was called after the leader of the People’s Party (Halkın Partisi, HP), Kudret Özersay, resigned from the TRNC Parliament last May.  Özersay said at the time he was unwilling to be part of a Parliament following “undemocratic developments” that had forced out the elected Prime Minister Faiz Sucuoğlu and installed Ünal Üstel in his place.

CTP Leader Tufan Erhürman also referred to the interference in the TRNC’s democracy, stating that the Turkish Cypriot public’s message from the ballot box was, “Do not play with the will of the electorate, do not play with democracy.”

The Opposition Leader also said, “The Turkish Cypriot people showed their will to start a new era,” a message echoed by Özuslu in his victory speech, who also said the low-turnout “should be thoroughly investigated and evaluated sociologically, politically and economically.”

Main image, top, of Sami Özuslu casting his vote in the TRNC by-election, 25 June 2023. Photo via Facebook /  CTP