The recent local elections in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus generated none of the major upsets and surprises of the 2014 election. The electorate chose to stick with their existing council leaders, with 23 of 28 incumbents being returned on Sunday 24 June 2018.
Turnout for the 2018 TRNC Local Elections was 71.4%, with the conservative National Unity Party (UBP) again emerging as the most popular party, receiving 40% of the vote. It marked a 5% increase on their share of vote from the January 2018 General Elections. However, beyond Mahmut Özçınar winning for a record sixth time in Güzelyurt and taking Serdarlı from the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), UBP made little headway in other key seats.
CTP, the main coalition partner in the four-way TRNC coalition government, enjoyed a 10% rise on the January elections, winning 31.1% to come second in the local elections. They retained control of Lefke through Aziz Kaya, who took 54.9% of the vote. However, the party’s big push in Güzelyurt failed to dislodge Özçınar, who won with the slenderest of margins – just 163 votes more than CTP candidate Osman Bican.
Kudret Özersay’s People’s Party (HP) saw a sizeable dip in their vote since January, garnering just 10.2% nationwide compared to 17.1% at the General Election. Their junior government coalition partners, the Democrat Party (DP) and the Communal Democracy Party’s (TDP), also suffered drops.
Far-right Yeniden Doğuş Partisi emerges as 4th largest party
TDP plummeted more than six points to take just 2.2%, but remarkably held Lefkoşa City Council through Mehmet Harmancı. The incumbent took 52.8% of the vote, comfortably beating Hasan Sertoğlu, the former Turkish Cypriot Football Association head and UBP candidate, into second place with 36.3% of the vote.
DP’s fortunes under long-running leader Serdar Denktaş continues to wane. The party received just 4.2% of the vote. They have just one council leader: Hayri Orçan retains his position as Mayor of Tatlısu.
Far-right Yeniden Doğuş Partisi (Rebirth Party / YDP) emerged as the fourth largest party at the elections, gaining 18 seats – six more than DP and TDP. The party was formed in October 2016 to represent the interests of thousands of Turkish settlers in the TRNC who are often marginalised in Cyprus politics. YDP’s nationalist, conservative and pro-Turkey stance puts them at odds with most Turkish Cypriots.
Still no female council leaders
Just a handful of women were put forward for senior council roles. They included Gencay Eroğlu, the DP candidate for the leader of Lefkoşa City Council, Havva Elkovan, the HP candidate for leader of Dipkarpaz Municipality, and Cemaliye Soğancı, who stood as the TDP candidate for İskele Municipality. None were successful.
Strikingly, UBP, CTP and YDP did not select a single female candidate for council leader in any of the 28 seats available across North Cyprus.
Only 5 of 28 council leaders change
Voters across the TRNC opted to keep their existing council leaders, with 23 of 28 incumbents returned on election day.
Of the five leaders who lost at the elections, the biggest upset was Fuat Namsoy, UBP’s Mayor of Lapta, who was defeated by independent businessman Mustafa Aktuğ. The other four councils to change leader were Değirmenlik, Serdarlı, Yeni Boğaziçi, and Yeni Erenköy.
TRNC’s 28 council leaders
Akdoğan – Ahmet Latif (CTP)
Akıncılar – Hasan Barbaros (CTP)
Alayköy – Hulusi Manisoy (CTP)
Alsancak – Fırat Ataser (independent)
Beyarmudu – İlker Edip (UBP)
Büyükkonuk – Ahmet Sennaroğlu (UBP)
Çatalköy – Mehmet Hulusioğlu (independent)
Değirmenlik – Ali Karavezirler (CTP)
Dikmen – Yüksel Çelebi (CTP)
Dipkarpaz – Suphi Coşkun (CTP)
Esentepe – Cemal Erdoğan (independent)
*Gazimağusa – İsmail Arter (independent)
Geçitkale – Hasan Öztaş (CTP)
Gönyeli – Ahmet Benli (CTP)
*Girne – Nidai Güngördü (independent)
*Güzelyurt – Mahmut Özçınar (UBP)
İnönü – Ali Öncü (independent)
*İskele – Hasan Sadıkoğlu (UBP)
Lapta – Mustafa Aktuğ (independent)
*Lefke – Aziz Kaya (CTP)
*Lefkoşa – Mehmet Harmancı (TDP)
Mehmetçik – Cemil Sarıçizmeli (independent)
Paşaköy – Halil Tülücü (UBP)
Tatlısu – Hayri Orçan (DP)
Vadili – Mehmet Adahan (UBP)
Serdarlı – Halil Kasım (UBP)
Yeni Boğaziçi – Mustafa Zurnacılar (independent)
Yeni Erenköy – Emrah Yeşilırmak (independent).
Alsancak’s young mayor Fırat Ataser not only got re-elected, he also broke the TRNC record for biggest share of vote for a candidate, receiving a staggering 83.3% of all votes cast.
CTP now has 10 city or town council heads. In addition to winning Serdarlı, main opposition UBP retained six council Mayors to take its a total of seven.
The TRNC has a total of 9 independent council leaders, including two city/district* councils: İsmail Arter in Gazimağusa and Girne under Nidai Güngördü. The other city/district councils are run by UBP (two), TDP and CTP (one each).
How many of the 280 councillors did each party win?
A total of 280 seats were up for grabs, which were contested by the main political parties along with candidates not wearing any party rosette.
A total of 64 independents had stood as local councillor candidates in these elections, nearly double the number from 2014 of 33. While there was success for independent Mayoral candidates, none succeeded in their bid to sit as members of local councils, with all 280 seats going to political party candidates.
The breakdown of the number of councillors won by each party at the 2018 General Elections are as follows:
UBP – 122
CTP – 94
HP – 21
YDP – 18
DP – 12
TDP – 12
TKP-YG (Communal Liberation Party-New Forces) – 1
The Local Elections also included voting in new representatives for local villages. A total of 237 muhtars (village heads) and 952 members of the council of elders (‘ihtiyar heyeti’) were elected.
Turnout highest in Lefke, lowest in Lefkoşa
There was a small increase in turnout for this year’s local elections, up 1.9% from the 2014 TRNC Local Elections, when 69.5% of the electorate had cast their vote. The figures remain broadly consistent with earlier years – 72.9% had voted in the 2010 Local Elections.
Turnout in June 2018 was highest in Lefke, where 81% of the electorate voted, while a little over half – 58.6% – voted in the capital Lefkoşa. The turnout in other major TRNC cities and towns were: Gazimağusa 70.7%, Girne 68.6%, Güzelyurt 71.9%, and 77.7% in İskele.