Turkish Cypriots to take to polls on Sunday for the first round of presidential election
by Sinan Öztürk
ISTANBULApr 15, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Sinan Öztürk
Apr 15, 2015 12:00 am
Turkish Cypriots will take to the polls on Sunday to determine the candidates for the second round of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' (TRNC) presidential elections.
The elections are crucial as Turkish and Greek parties are preparing to return to the negotiating table under the supervision of 25th United Nations Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide to solve the 41 year-old problem, as the island is getting more strategic with oil and gas reserves around the island, adding to its strategic location between the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
A total of 176,912 people are eligible to vote in 693 polls for seven candidates that will run in the elections, which include current President and former Prime Minister Derviş Eroğlu and Parliament Speaker Sibel Siber.
Eroğlu, who leads the polls at the moment, will run as an independent candidate but he will be supported by the center right National Unity Party (UBP), which he chaired for 23 years consecutively and 25 years in total, and the Democratic Party (DP) alliance.
Meanwhile Siber, the only female candidate in the race, is the candidate of center left Republican Turkish Party (CTP) that holds the government and parliamentary majority.
Mustafa Akıncı, supported by left-wing Communal Democracy Party (TDP), and United Cyprus Party (BKP) that is found by former CTP members, is a prominent independent candidate whose campaign has gained momentum as the election nears. Many polls show that Siber and Akıncı will compete in the first round to become Eroğlu's candidate for the second round. Veteran politician Akıncı, who served as the mayor of the Turkish sector of the island's divided capital Lefkoşa (Nicosia) for 14 years, is perceived as a more challenging rival for Eroğlu for the second round.
Former TRNC chief negotiator Kudret Özersay is another prominent independent candidate. Having served under both Eroğlu and former CTP-backed president Mehmet Ali Talat and founding president Rauf Denktaş, Özersay is a respected figure within the Turkish Cypriot community, although the polls show that his chances of getting into the next round are weak. However for Özersay, who at 42 years old is quite young for Turkish Cypriot politics, this election may serve as a beneficial practice for his future political career.