A new Speaker of Parliament in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) was selected at the third time of asking.
Önder Sennaroğlu, an MP for the ruling National Unity Party (UBP) was the only candidate to stand on Monday, 18 January. He was elected by a vote of 26-20, with two abstentions in the 50-seat Parliament.
The conservative UBP, which heads a three-way coalition government, had previously tried to get a female MP, Resmiye Canaltay, picked for the post. However, Canaltay failed to secure enough votes two weeks running with UBP’s junior coalition partners, the Democrat Party (DP) and Rebirth Party (YDP), refusing to back Prime Minister Ersan Saner’s preferred candidate.
The issue had threatened to bring down the government less than a month after forming, with the PM Saner signalling last week that he was ready for early elections. Monday’s successful election has seemingly alleviated that need.
Who is Önder Sennaroğlu?
Önder Sennaroğlu, 63, is the thirteenth Speaker of Parliament in the TRNC. The married father of two takes over from Teberrüken Uluçay, an MP from the main opposition Republican Turkish Party (CTP), who had served as Speaker. since February 2018.
Sennaroğlu is an agricultural engineer by profession, who has previously served as Agricultural Minister in several governments. He has previously served on the executive board of the Turkish Cypriot Farmers Union, and also on the board of the Cyprus Turkish Cooperative Central Bank.
The İskele MP was first elected to Parliament in 2005, and has been re-elected in all elections since then. For one term (2013) he stood as an MP for the left-leaning CTP, but he resigned in 2016 and re-joined UBP in 2017.
In 2018, Sennaroğlu earned the title for ‘worst attending MP’ after he missed nearly half of all Parliamentary sessions between 2 April and 30 June 2018, attending just 11 out of 20 sessions.
Two female Speakers of Parliament in the TRNC
There have been two female Speakers of Parliament in the TRNC’s history, both from the CTP. The first was Fatma Ekenoğlu, who served between 2004 and 2009. She was followed by Sibel Siber, who served between 2013 and 2018.
There are currently 48 sitting 50 MPs in the TRNC Parliament, with two seats vacated by two former UBP Prime Ministers.
Ersin Tatar’s seat became vacant when he was elected President in October 2020, while deposed UBP leader Hüseyin Özgürgün has refused to take his seat in Parliament following the 2018 General Election after he became the subject of a fraud investigation.
Technically, UBP has 21 MPs, but the absence of Tatar and Özgürgün reduces their active tally to 19 MPs.
CTP has 12 MPs. Former coalition partner HP (People’s Party) is down to 6 MPs after three of its MPs resigned and now sit as independents. TDP (Communal Democracy Party) and DP have 3 MPs each, while YDP has two.
Main image, top, of Önder Sennaroğlu. Photo from BRTK