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Turkish Cypriots to Vote in Second Round of Presidential Ballot | Europe




The vote pits incumbent Mustafa Akinci against right-wing Turkish nationalist Ersin Tatar.

Turkish Cypriots in northern Cyprus will vote in a second round for the presidency on Sunday, in a ballot that could decide whether they take control of their own affairs or are even closer to an increasingly Turkey. more domineering.

The presidential vote pits the outgoing and favorite president, Mustafa Akinci, 72, who supports reunification with the Greek majority Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union, against the right-wing Turkish nationalist Ersin Tatar.

Tatar, 60, who advocates a two-state solution, now holds the title of Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). He controversially received open support from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Under Erdogan, Turkey has grown into an increasingly assertive regional power that is now engaged in a bitter conflict with Greece and Cyprus over the oil and gas reserves of the Mediterranean Sea.

Residents of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) start voting for the second time after the country’s presidential candidates failed to secure more than 50% of the vote in the first round [Ali Ihsan Akca/Anadolu Agency]

Sunday’s second round was called after Tatar won 32 percent of the vote on October 11 ahead of Akinci, who garnered nearly 30 percent out of 11 candidates.

But Akinci is now in a stronger position, having secured the support of Tufan Erhurman, a fellow Social Democrat, who came third.

Tatar is courting a large pool of voters, especially in rural areas who may not have voted in the first round.

Participation will be a key factor. The first round saw a low voter turnout of 55 percent out of an electorate of 200,000, and some analysts believe a higher turnout could favor Tatar.

Opening of the ghost station

The TRNC, which today numbers around 300,000 inhabitants, was declared after the north was occupied by Turkey in 1974 in reaction to a coup attempt to annex Cyprus to Greece. Turkey is the only country to recognize this.

Earlier this month, Turkish troops angered Cyprus and many Turkish Cypriots by reopening public access to the fenced-in seaside ghost town of Varosha for the first time since Turkish forces invaded the North.

The move drew criticism from the EU and the UN and sparked protests in the Republic of Cyprus, which exercises authority over the southern two-thirds of the islands, separated from the north by a UN-patrolled buffer zone. .

Turkey has repeatedly stated that it seeks to defend the rights of Turks and Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean against a cabal of nations, including Greece and Cyprus.

But relations between Akincis and Ankara have been strained, especially after he described the prospect of Turkey’s annexation of the north as gruesome in February.

The results of the first round tell us: half of the Turkish Cypriot community defends a federation despite all kinds of pressure, Umut Bozkurt, vice-dean and assistant professor at the University of the Eastern Mediterranean, told the news agency. .

This election was dominated more by Turkey-Northern Cyprus relations than by the Cypriot question.

The results of the first round also show that a significant part of the electorate is seeking to free themselves from the pressure of Ankara and live in a united Cyprus, she added.

A Turkish-Cypriot couple sits on a bench while waiting to vote at a polling station [Ali Ihsan Akca /Anadolu Agency]

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