Today’s Presidential Election in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus ended as predicted with the two frontrunners going into next Sunday’s run-off.
TRNC Prime Minister Ersin Tatar edged Mustafa Akıncı in the first round, taking 32.35% of the vote to the incumbent’s 29.84%.
Tufan Erhürman, the Leader of the main opposition Turkish Republican Party (CTP), came a distant third with 21.68%. TRNC Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay trailed in at fourth with just 5.74% vote share.
It means that on Sunday, 18 October, the Turkish Cypriot electorate will be faced with two distinctive choices; the two remaining candidates in the Presidential race each stand for two different solutions to the decades-old Cyprus dispute.
President Akıncı is committed to the internationally-backed bi-communal, bi-zonal federal solution with Greek Cypriots, while Prime Minister Tatar prefers a 2-state solution. Mr Tatar argues that after 43 years of failed talks over a federal settlement, including at Crans Montana in 2017, it’s time to look at alternatives.
Although the TRNC is governed by a Parliamentary system, traditionally it has been the President who has sat at the negotiating table with Greek Cypriots to try to forge a path to reuniting the island through UN-sponsored talks.
Cracks have appeared as Prime Minister Tatar’s government promotes a different vision to the one advocated by President Akıncı. This was typified earlier this week when the Prime Minister unilaterally decided on the partial opening of the abandoned seaside resort of Varosha / Maraş on the eastern coast of Cyprus. The move was criticised by the President, who prefers such actions are taken within the context of the Cyprus Talks.
Turnout and vote share in Presidential Election
Today’s vote, postponed from its original date in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, had the lowest turnout on record for North Cyprus.
Just 58.22% of the electorate, or 115,776 of a possible 198,867, cast their vote. Of these, 5,037 votes were discounted as spoilt ballots.
The vote share for each of the 11 candidates after all 738 ballot boxes were counted and verified by the TRNC Electoral Board (KKTC Yüksek Seçim Kurulu) is as follows:
- Ersin Tatar – 32.35% (35,825 votes)
- Mustafa Akıncı – 29.84% (33,053 votes)
- Tufan Erhürman – 21.68% (24,008 votes)
- Kudret Özersay – 5.74% (6,356 votes)
- Erhan Arıklı – 5.36% (5,937 votes)
- Serdar Denktaş – 4.20% (4,653 votes)
- Fuat Çiner – 0.30% (327 votes)
- Arif Salih Kırdağ – 0.25% (282votes)
- Alpan Uz – 0.14 (156votes)
- Ahmet Boran – 0.07% (83 votes)
- Mustafa Ulaş – 0.06% (69 votes)
When will the run-off take place?
The run-off between Prime Minister Tatar and President Akıncıwill take place on Sunday 18 October. The winner requires a simple majority and will serve a term of five years as TRNC President.
Anyone aged 18 or over who is a TRNC citizen is eligible to vote. However only those in North Cyprus can cast a vote, which may have affected the turnout today as many in the diaspora, particularly in Turkey and UK, were deterred from travelling due to Covid-19 quarantine restrictions.
Voting booths will be open during the hours of 8am and 6pm on Sunday, with the election results given later that evening.
Main image, top, of TRNC Prime Minister Ersin Tatar (left) and TRNC President Mustafa Akıncı