CTP receives major blow in local elections
Last Sunday’s municipal elections dealt a huge blow to the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), the biggest pro-solution party in the northern part of Cyprus, and the outcome is expected to have major implications on April’s elections for the Turkish Cypriot leader. CTP, which held the municipalities in the three biggest cities in the northern part of Cyprus, lost all three.
A successful outcome in municipal elections would have considerably strengthened CTP, and served as a strong indication of people’s inclinations for the ‘presidential elections.’ CTP would have most probably nominated former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who has been open about his willingness to run again, and would had a good chance of coming out of the elections victorious.
However, to the amazement of many, CTP lost the ‘flagship’ Nicosia Turkish Municipality, as well as the Kyrenia and Famagusta Municipalities. The Kyrenia and Famagusta municipalities, which belonged to CTP for more than 15 years, were lost to candidates backed by hardliner Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu, and the right-wing National Unity Party (UBP) and the Democratic Party (DP).
Challenging times lie ahead of CTP officials not only because they will most probably be required to re-design their plans for the April elections in this new political atmosphere, but also because of the internal conflicts within the party. There are allegations that long-standing disagreements among party officials and the municipal candidates have grown into full-blown retaliation during the municipal elections and led to CTP’s defeat. Some party members are being accused of openly or secretly backing competing candidates. The party will also have to solve these internal conflicts, which were used very efficiently by the right-wing parties to defeat CTP, if it is to enter a healthy election period.
An important outcome of the local elections is the rise of veteran politician Mustafa Akıncı as a strong potential candidate for the ‘presidential elections’ after Social Democracy Party’s (TDP) Mehmet Harmancı won the Nicosia Turkish Municipality with almost 40 per cent of the votes. In the Turkish Cypriot political arena, a special importance has always been placed on who wins the Nicosia Turkish Municipality, with many arguing, often rightly so, that the Nicosia Turkish Municipality is a ‘flagship’ municipality and the party that wins it, has an advantage during the ensuing elections for the Turkish Cypriot leader.
It will be interesting to watch the developments in the run-up to the April elections.