A hardliner, who favours even closer ties with Turkey and a tougher stance with Greek Cypriots in peace talks, has defeated the leftist incumbent in the Turkish Cypriot leadership runoff on Sunday.
Turkish Cypriot broadcaster BRT says with 100% of the votes counted, Ersin Tatar secured 51.74% of the vote compared to 48.26% for Mustafa Akinci.
Akinci, 72, is a champion of Turkish Cypriots who oppose Turkey’s complete domination of their affairs. Tatar, 60, advocates fully aligning Turkish Cypriot policies with those of Turkey, the region’s patron.
Tatar appears to have benefited from a higher turnout in the runoff, managing to rally supporters from the approximately 200,000-strong electorate who may not have voted in the first round.
Akinci conceded defeat to Tatar in a speech to supporters at his campaign headquarters, congratulating his opponent on his victory.
“We went through an election contest that wasn’t normal … These results mark the end of my 45-year political career,” Akinci said. “I wish good luck to our people.”
Tatar declared victory in a speech to his supporters.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took to his official Twitter account to congratulate Tatar for his election victory.
“Turkey will continue to make all necessary efforts to defend the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people,” Erdogan said.
A first test for the winner will be a meeting with Greek Cypriots and Cyprus’ “guarantors” — Greece, Turkey and Britain — that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to call soon. The aim will be to figure out if there’s enough common ground to restart dormant peace talks.
Nearly five decades of UN facilitated attempts at achieving reunification based on a federal framework have failed.
Tatar shares the Turkish government view that federation may not be the most viable option and alternatives such as a two-state deal should be pursued.