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The European Elections Monitor
Cyprus - General Elections

The general elections in Republic of northern Cyprus * 14th december 2003

The general elections in Republic of northern Cyprus * 14th december 2003

14/12/2003 - Results

On 14th December 141,000 Turkish Cypriots voted to elect new MP's. The general election, that involved the participation of seven political parties including three alliances, can be considered as a referendum following the plan drawn up by Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN and on the integration of a reunited island into the EU. It is considered by most Turkish Cypriots as the most important election in the political history of the Republic of Northern Cyprus, since the Greek part of the island will become a member of the EU in any case as from 1st May 2004. The result of the election determines the future of the Republic of Northern Cyprus, just as Turkey's membership of the EU.

An island divided since 1974

After the division of the island after the Turkish military invasion in 1974, that followed in the wake of a military coup d'état supported by Athens, the northern part of the island, that is mostly Turkish, proclaimed itself a Federate State in 1975 and a Republic in 1983. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has been governed by Rauf Denktash since 1975, and who was re-elected president for the fourth consecutive five year period in April 2000.

The Cypriot problem has again emerged on an international level since Turkey's admission in December 1999 as candidate country to the EU during the Helsinki Summit and two years after Cyprus' admission as a candidate for EU membership.

On 11th November 2002 Kofi Annan delivered an agreement proposal, the Annan Plan, on the reunification of Cyprus into one State with limited central power.

In spite of direct meetings since November 2002 the Greek and Turkish Cypriot negotiators have not managed to come to an agreement on the reunification plan. The last meeting was held in March 2003. Crucial questions are still pending: the existence or not of two distinct States, the island's security, the territorial limits of the two zones, property rights and the return of displaced inhabitants.

Although it has been suggested that President Denktash, the negotiator from the Turkish part of the island, was the cause of the failed negotiations due to his intransigence, the EU's position in the face of the Cypriot problem has also played a role in blocking talks. Indeed the EU assured the Greek part of the island's integration in 2004 whatever the outcome of the negotiations.

In April 2003, just after the breakdown in negotiations, the government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus gave permission to its citizens to pass "freely" over to the south of the island. This new opportunity to cross the "green line" was seen positively by both populations who have lived side by side for centuries and who are ready for the reunification of the island in spite of what their leaders maintain.

The political parties

The two parties from the nationalist right that form the present government coalition, the UBP, (National Union Party - -Ulusal Birlik Partisi) and the DP (Democrat Party - Demokrat Parti) but also the liberal party KAP (Cypriot Justice Party - Kibris Adalet Partisi) support President Rauf Denktash's policy. They insist on the existence of two separate States and not a Federal State. They refuse Kofi Annan's plan, that in their opinion, does not correspond to the island's Turkish population's expectations. They would like Northern Cyprus to become a member of the EU when Turkey joins and not as an independent, indivisible country on 1st May 2004. Although the DP agrees mostly with President Denktash's policy it does not refuse outright Kofi Annan's plan.

The MBP (Nationalist Peace Party- Milliyetçi Baris Partisi) - although it lies close to the ideas shared by the other three parties - is not totally hostile to Kofi Annan's plan.

The three main pro-European opposition parties; the CTP (Turkish Republican Party – Cumhuriyetçi Turk Partisi), the BDH (Movement for Democracy and Peace - Baris ve Demokrasi Hareketi) and the CABP (Solution and European Union Party - Cozüm ve Avrupa Birligi Partisi) who are ready to take up negotiations on the basis of the Annan plan have a similar approach to the Cypriot question and have signed a protocol announcing their refusal to enter into coalition with either one of the two parties who are in government at present. However they presented separate lists during the general elections. These three parties aim to find a solution to the Cypriot problem within the framework of the Annan plan leading to the foundation of a reunified Republic of Cyprus based on equality between the two parts of the island, and that would integrate the EU in May 2004. They would like a referendum whatever the agreement concluded. These three parties pointed out that they might remove President Denktash in his capacity as main negotiator if they won the elections and form a delegation chosen by Parliament.

Election Results[1]

For the very first time the island's Turkish population gave a chance to the two main opposition parties. The CTP with 35.8% finds itself in the lead. The UBP, that is in government at present, follows closely behind with 32.8% of the vote. The other opposition party, the BDH won 13.6% and the DP, the other ruling coalition member, won 12.4%. But in terms of forecasting seats the opposition, just as the outgoing majority, would each have 25 seats out of the 50 available in Parliament. In all it is still President Denktash's task to choose the future government of the northern part of Cyprus.

The political parties taking part in the election

*His candidature was rejected by the High Elections Council. He chairs his party but cannot be an MP.

* Political entity recognised by Turkey only

[1] Result of Monday 15th December 2003 at 13:00.

[2] Alliance between the Justice and Peace Party (ABP) and the Nationalist Party of Justice (MAP)

[3] Alliance between the Social Liberation Party (TKP) and two other small parties from the same trend
Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN