Sunday 13 July 2014

Article - Municipal elections in the north (Published in Greek in 24h on 29 June 2014)

Municipal elections in the north

I don’t know if I am expected to write the word ‘municipal’ within quotation marks or insert the expression ‘so-called’ before it. I will do neither, because I refuse to submit to the official discourse of either side.

The status-quo in the northern part of Cyprus is unacceptable and the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” is a secessionist entity deemed legally invalid by international law. However, any group of people living at a certain place for one reason or another, have basic needs of housing, infrastructure, water network, sewage etc. that have to be fulfilled by local administrations. And I don’t believe that not using quotation marks when writing about the local administrations or municipalities in the north would make the said entity there more legal or acceptable.

That point aside, as you are reading this article today, Turkish Cypriots are going to polls to elect the people who will run the local administrations in the northern part of Cyprus for the next four years. And it is widely believed that the municipal elections on 29 June will also serve as a strong indication for next year’s elections for the Turkish Cypriot leader. People’s political party preferences will demonstrate whether the majority is leaning more towards the pro-settlement, pro-unification left parties or the pro-status-quo right parties. This therefore, will be considered an early sign for the election for the Turkish Cypriot leader in April 2015 – due in less than 10 months.  

Besides the overall results of the municipal elections, a special importance is placed on who will win the Nicosia Turkish Municipality. Many argue that the Nicosia Turkish Municipality is a ‘flagship’ municipality and the party that wins it will have advantage during the ensuing elections for the Turkish Cypriot leader.

Whether by coincidence or not, this argument was validated by the two most recent elections. When Mehmet Ali Talat became the Turkish Cypriot leader with an unprecedented %56 of the votes in April 2005, the pro-solution left-wing Republican Turkish Party (CTP) was holding the Nicosia Turkish Municipality. However, the  ‘flagship’ Nicosia Turkish Municipality was lost to Serdar Denktas’ Democratic Party in 2006, and Mehmet Ali Talat lost the Turkish Cypriot leadership to hardliner Dervis Eroglu in the elections in 2010. 

There surely are other factors involved in the election of the Turkish Cypriot leader. However, today’s elections will no doubt serve as an indication of the general tendency of the people living in the northern part of Cyprus and play an important role in the political parties’ plans for the upcoming April 2015 election.

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