Turkish Cypriot President receives crucial endorsement ahead of second round of elections

Turkish Cypriot centre-left the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) has endorsed the incumbent left-wing President Mustafa Akıncı on Tuesday for the second round of elections to be held this Sunday.

The current Turkish Cypriot prime minister, Turkish-government-backed right-wing challenger Ersin Tatar won more than 32 percent of the votes in the first round, whereas Akıncı won over 29 percent. In third place was CTP's Tufan Erhürman, coming in with nearly 22 percent. As such, the CTP endorsement significantly increases the likelihood Akıncı's victory over Ankara backed rival. 

The written statement released by CTP said the party had supported a federalist system since its founding as a way to resolve the problems in the Mediterranean island. Akıncı is also known for his strong pro-federal government position.

“The election has turned into a referendum on Turkish intervention,” Rebecca Bryant, a professor at Utrecht University and co-author of Sovereignty Suspended: Building the So-Called Statetold Ahval last week, pointing to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government's overt attempt to tip the scales in favour of Tatar. 

Turkish Cypriots rely on the security and financial guarantees provided by Ankara, which is the only state to formally recognise the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The island's predominantly secular population is wary of attempts by Erdoğan’s Islamist government to influence their culture and politics.

A full-blown spat ignited between the Turkish Cypriot government and Ankara when Akıncı criticised Turkey's military offensive in northeast Syria in Oct. 2019. The Turkish Embassy in the North has been accused for openly intervening the election.

Mustafa Akıncı, two days before the election, had told local television channel TV 2020 that he had received threats from Turkish authorities to not run again in the enclave’s upcoming elections.