Mainland Turkish citizens living in Turkish-occupied north Cyprus rejected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bid for re-election in Sunday’s elections.
They gave opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu 54.16 per cent of their votes while Mr Erdogan garnered 38.55 per cent. In the parliamentary poll, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported 35.46 per cent of voters supported the opposition Turkish Republican party (CHP) and 28 per cent voted for Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development party (AKP), while smaller parties received single-digit returns.
On the mainland, Mr Erdogan won 49.51 per cent against Mr Kilicdaroglu’s 44.89 per cent in the presidential contest. In the parliamentary election, the AKP and its nationalist coalition partner won a majority of 316 out of 600 seats while the CHP alliance secured 275.
The Cyprus News agency reported that 140,111 Turkish citizens resident in north Cyprus were eligible to vote in the election, but turnout was 58.9 per cent, far below the figure of 88.9 per cent on the mainland where 64 million people could cast ballots. There are an estimated 314,000 residents of north Cyprus, of whom 145,000 are Turkish Cypriots and 169,000 mainland Turks. There are also 30,000-35,000 Turkish troops
Some mainland Turkish voters appeared to have been influenced by Turkish Cypriots who vote in elections in the north but not in Turkey or the republic. Many reject Mr Erdogan’s call for a “two-state solution” – international recognition of northern independence – as well as his efforts to impose a conservative religious culture on secular Turkish Cypriots and limit freedom in the north.
Both mainlanders and Turkish Cypriots have been overwhelmed by economic distress imported from Turkey. This appears to have affected mainland voters here more than those in Turkey. The economic crisis has arisen due to the eccentric policies adopted by Mr Erdogan, who has cut rather than increased interest rates to reduce soaring inflation. The value of the Turkish currency against the dollar has plunged to record lows.
Turkish Cypriots and Turkish residents have to use dollars, euro and British pounds to pay rent and purchase major items, although salaries are paid in Turkish currency. There are frequent power cuts across the north, shortages of basic goods, and strikes.