After the Conference on Cyprus failed in July, there follow early elections in the TRNC in January 2018.
Still ahead in the opinion polls is the National Unity Party (UBP), closely followed by the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) lead by Tufan Erhurman, writes Turkish Cypriot journalist Yusuf Kanli in Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’.
A recent poll showed that the Cyprus problem was top of the list of the public’s concern. Party attitudes to the solution will be very influential.
The CTP was guilty of gross mismanagement when it was last in power in between 2013-16 in coalition with the Democratic Party (DP) led by Serdar Denktas, Kanli writes. However since Tufan Erhurman became leader, the party has gained more support, writes Kanli. Although in view of the disillusionment of the voters, the CTP’s support for a federal solution to the Cyprus problem could be its Achilles heel, says the journalist.
At the end of last month, 19 conservative deputies submitted a proposal to scrap the federative model for any future negotiations on the reunification of Cyprus and talks should be conducted between two equal states. The DP, which is now part of the coalition government with the UBP had four seats in parliament. However, it has just lost one member since the Minister of Education Ozdemir Berova resigned his post and defected to the UBP. Since the DP, which is part of the parliamentary commission, is now minus one of it’s deputies, the discussion on the proposal has been postponed until after the elections.
Kanli writes that meanwhile, President Mustafa Akinci, whom he describes as a “romantic”, is working to restart the Cyprus negotiations as soon as the South Cyprus presidential elections are over next March.
He also asks if it was a political gimmick by chief negotiator Ozdil Nami when he told Reuters last week that the Cyprus talks could resume only if the “political status” of Turkish Cypriots is addressed, should any new talks fail. Nami, who is also running in the elections as a member of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), has been a leading federalist, like Akinci. However, a federal solution no longer holds much attraction for Turkish Cypriots aggrieved by the persistent refusal of the Greek Cypriot side to consider them as political equals.
The candidate who may bring some surprises is Kudret Ozersay, a scholar in international politics and a former negotiator in the Cyprus talks when led by President Mehmet Ali Talat and then Dervis Eroglu. Ozersay formed his own party HP in October 2016 which came third in a recent voting poll. He could be very influential and could become the “Kingmaker” in Turkish Cypriot politics, Kanli argues.