Another swing to the left

Europe’s movement to the left is apparently now so pronounced that it even affects pseudo-countries. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, voting on Sunday (see my preview here), has swung leftwards, with the centre-left, pro-reunification Republican Turkish Party (CTP) emerging as the largest party in the new parliament.

According to reports (I haven’t been able to track down official figures), the CTP won 38.5% of the vote, up 9.3% from 2009. Its main rival, the more nationalist centre-right National Unity Party (UBP), managed only 27.2%, a drop of 16.9%.

Nonetheless, despite the swing the centre-right parties still have a majority: the UBP won 14 seats and the more moderate Democratic Party took 12. That’s narrowly ahead of the 24 seats won by the CTP (21) and its ally the Communal Democracy Party (3). But the news reports assume that it won’t be possible to keep the CTP out of government.

The most likely outcome is a coalition between the CTP and the Democratic Party, which has switched sides before (and currently sits with the CTP in a caretaker government). That might mean some new movement on the reunification issue. Even the nationalists, who were in government until two months ago, had tried to keep talks going – which has been hampered by Cyprus itself going through a change of government and economic mayhem.

The other thing that will make for uncertain progress is that a parliamentary majority is not enough to govern Northern Cyprus. Its system is semi-presidential (along the lines of France or Russia), so the directly-elected president, nationalist Derviş Eroğlu, has a major say in what happens. He has been quoted as calling for “urgent dialogue between the rival parties.”

And behind everything else stands the power of the Turkish government and military, courtesy of which Northern Cyprus exists in the first place. Turkey would dearly love to be rid of the Cyprus problem, and to that end has generally been supportive of the CTP and its more conciliatory leadership.

So while Turkish foreign (and for that matter domestic) policy hasn’t been having a good run lately, Sunday can probably be chalked up as a modest success.

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