Turkish Cypriots elect president in second round under Turkey’s gaze

The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (RTNC) celebrates the second round of the presidential elections this Sunday, in which the current president, Mustafá Akinci (i), defender of a federal solution for the island, is measured against the nationalist Ersin Tatar, winner of the first round and Turkey’s favorite. EFE / EPA / BILGE BEBEK

Nicosia, Oct 17 (EFE) .- The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (RTNC) celebrates the second round of the presidential elections this Sunday, in which the current president, Mustafá Akinci, defender of a federal solution for the island, he meets the nationalist Ersin Tatar, winner of the first round and Turkey’s favorite.
Last Sunday in the first round, Tatar, leader of the National Unity Party (PUN), was in first place with 32.35% of the votes, followed by the candidate for reelection Mustafá Akinci, who is presented as independent and achieved 29.84% of votes.
In third place was the center-left leader of the Turkish Republican Party (CTP), Tufan Erhürman, with 21.68%, who this week announced his support for Akinci for the second round.
Erhürman assured that he shares “principles” with Akinci, including on “a federal solution to the Cyprus problem”, in a CTP statement.
On the other hand, Tatar, until now prime minister of the RTNC, in addition to PUN, will be backed by the Renaissance party, whose candidate in the first round obtained only 5.36%.
Also outside the podium in the first round were Foreign Minister Kudret Ozersay, with 5.74%, and the leader of the Democratic party, Serdar Denktash, with 4.20%. Neither has yet announced who they will support tomorrow.
CHOICE BETWEEN TWO MODELS FOR THE DIVIDED ISLAND
What the nearly 200,000 voters called to the polls decide tomorrow will determine this community’s relationship with Turkey, which has controlled the RTNC militarily and economically for decades.
On the one hand, Akinci is a great defender of the federation as a solution to the division of Cyprus, he wants to break with the strong dependence on Turkey and during his tenure he has had several clashes with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyp Erdogan.
Last week Akinci claimed that he and his family were threatened by the Turkish government not to run for reelection.
Meanwhile, Tatar is an advocate for the creation of two independent states and enjoys great support in Ankara, where he attended on October 6 to announce with Erdogan the opening of part of the beach in the ghost neighborhood of Varosha.
The announcement sparked national and international protests, as it violates UN resolutions, and has been seen as an interference by Turkey in the Turkish Cypriot elections.
A NEW BEGINNING FOR NEGOTIATIONS
Whoever is elected president will be the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community and will have the role of negotiator in the talks for the reunification of Cyprus, which has remained divided in two since the Turkish invasion of the north of the island in 1974.
The UN, which is sponsoring the peace process, announced its intention to resume negotiations after this electoral process.
A few days before this new electoral round, Tatar defended his idea that a two-state model, which could be constituted as a confederation, will always be better than a federation like the one that has been negotiated for decades, without success.
Akinci, for his part, maintained that the best solution is a bi-communal federation, with political equality between both communities, and pointed out that the best option is for citizens from the island, both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and those arriving from Turkey. (Ankara has been colonizing the north with a Turkish population), they can live together “happily and peacefully”.
According to local political analysts, the autonomy of Turkish Cypriots from Turkey is impossible for the time being, given the economic dependence, and for this reason Akinci insists that emancipation could only be achieved through a federation.
For this reason they warn that, despite the clear importance of tomorrow’s result, the future of the TRNC will not depend only on that and Turkey will have a lot to say about it.
The question among analysts is how voters will behave who, although they want to send a message to Ankara, know that their economic survival depends on it and therefore an open confrontation would damage the RTNC.
Many Turkish Cypriots reject the cultural pressure from Turkey, insist on its secular character and that they do not want to transform into an Islamic territory.
Another determining factor according to experts will be participation, which in the first round was very low with a record of abstention. Only 54.72% voted, which analysts attribute to indifference and the COVID-19 pandemic.
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