Defying the odds, the nationalist candidate Ersin Tatar, supported by Turkey, was elected Sunday “president” of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (RTNC), a success for Ankara in a context of strong tensions around his projects in the eastern Mediterranean.
With 51.74% of the vote, Ersin Tatar supplants Mustafa Akinci, leader outgoing cold with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and supporter of a reunification of the Mediterranean island in the form of a federal state, auguring a radical change of relations with the southern part of the island. The support of the candidate who came third in the first round on October 11 did not allow the Social Democrat to win. A demand for recounting of the ballots by Mustafa Akinci’s camp, which has repeatedly denounced Turkey’s interference in the election, cannot be ruled out.
Supporters of Ersin Tatar on the balcony of his party headquarters, overlooking the plaza where the results were broadcast, celebrated their victory with loud music extolling the merits of their champion and waving Turkish flags. Ankara very quickly greeted “warmly” the victory of its protégé: “We will work together to ensure the prosperity, development and security of the Turkish Cypriots. We will jointly defend the rights and legitimate interests of Northern Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean, ”tweeted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu.
Turnout rose to 67.30%, three points more than in 2015, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Some 199,000 people were called to vote out of more than 300,000 inhabitants. The election took place in a context of strong tensions around the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean between Ankara and Athens, the main ally of the Republic of Cyprus – member of the European Union since 2004 – which exercises its authority over the southern two-thirds of the island.