Özgürgün retains leadership of the UBP

Hüseyin Özgürgün was returned as party leader on Saturday night after securing 56% of the vote. He beat former Finance Minister Ersin Tatar in the second-round of the Ulusal Birlik Partisi (National Unity Party) leadership contest, after five of the seven candidates were eliminated in the first round of voting held the previous week.

7 candidates in 1st round of leadership contest

The two men had gone head-to-head after neither had achieved the required 51% to win outright in the first round.

The all-male contest had seen a number of former government ministers stand for the party’s top job: Ünal Üstel, Ersan Saner, Nazım Çavuşoğlu, and Zorlu Töre. Oğuz Ceyda, a former President of the Turkish Cypriot Farmers Union, also threw his hat into the ring.

During a live count held on Saturday 31 October, the top two took over two thirds of the vote between them: Özgürgün came first with 44.3%, with Tatar on 23.4%. The next nearest candidate had been Üstel on 11.5%, followed by: Saner (8.1%), Çavuşoğlu (6.2%),Töre (5.2%), and Ceyda (0.6%).

Two in three party members voted in the first round. A slightly higher number turned out for the second.

Results from the UBP leadership runoff

The final results from the second round of leadership elections that took place at UBP’s 20th AGM on Saturday 7 November are as follows:

Total votes cast: 6,316

Hüseyin Özgürgün: 3,540

Ersin Tatar: 2,716

Spoilt/rejected ballots: 60

‘Unity and togetherness’

UBP_leadership_results_7Nov15The leadership contest should help the party reconcile after months of bickering and petty political point-scoring among the rival candidates and their supporters.

Özgürgün and Tatar shook hands and posed for the cameras following the announcement of the results. The UBP leader then invited the other leadership candidates, fellow UBP MPs and local council leaders to join them on the stage to demonstrate the party’s “unity and togetherness”.

During his victory speech, he said: “Today UBP has scored an important victory for democracy”, referring to the party’s new internal voting system and regulations. The 50-year-old politician pledged to do his best for this party and country, and thanked the National Executive and party members who worked during the two AGMs.

UBP, founded by the TRNC’s first President Rauf Denktaş and known for its patriotic views, is the junior partner in a coalition government with the centre-left Republican Turkish Party (CTP).

About Huseyin Özgürgün

A graduate of political sciences from Ankara University and a keen sportsman, Özgürgün started his political life in the centre-right Democrat Party, first entering Parliament in 1998. He then switched to their arch rivals UBP, going on to become party leader in 2006. He stepped down after 10 months.

A popular figure within the party, he headed the group of UBP MPs in Parliament in 2013 after party leader and former Prime Minister İrsen Küçük failed to get re-elected in the General Elections held that year. Soon after, Özgürgün, an MP for Lefkoşa, was re-elected as party leader.

Born in Lefkoşa, he is married and a father of two.