The Turkish invasion in the summer of 1974 brought about a territorial segregation of the population, which was completed in August / September 1975, when the United Nations moved north 8,000 Turkish Cypriots, the last remaining of the approximately 43,000 living in the southern part of the island.
In February 1975, the Turkish Cypriot leadership proclaimed the “Turkish Federated State of Cyprus” which was internationally recognized only by Turkey. In July 1975, a referendum was organized for the adoption of a “constitution”.
The government of the Republic of Cyprus, which, as already mentioned, had remained exclusively in the hands of the Greek Cypriots since 1964, called for parliamentary elections in September 1976. AKEL and EDEK, as well as two new formations, took part in the contest. They are, the Democratic Front – DIPA, later renamed the Democratic Party – DIKO, led by Spyros Kyprianou and the Democratic Rally – DISY, with Glafkos Clerides. DISY contested the election on a single ticket with the Democratic National Party – DEK.
The electoral cooperation of AKEL, DIPA and EDEK exploited the plurality electoral system and managed to exclude DISY from the Parliament, despite it securing 27% of the votes cast. DIPA secured 21 seats out of a total of 35, while its electorate did not exceed 30%. AKEL elected all its nine candidates, EDEK four, while one seat went to the independent Tassos Papadopoulos, who was voted by the cooperating parties.
In September 1977, following the sudden death of Makarios (August 1977), the political leadership consented to Spyros Kyprianou, President of the House of Representatives, as interim president until February 1978, when normal elections were due to take place. The abduction of his son, Achilleas Kyprianou, before Christmas 1977, led Glafcos Clerides to withdraw his candidacy, which allowed Kyprianou to be declared President of the Republic unopposed (February 1978).
In 1979, the first local elections were held to elect community presidents, village authorities and improvement councils.
In 1980, a crisis erupted between Spyros Kyprianou and AKEL, and within the Democratic Party – DIKO. Alekos Michaelides, President of the House, left the party with other DIKO MPs and officials, and established the New Democratic Front – NEDIPA. Other DIKO officials and MPs established with Tassos Papadopoulos the Union of the Center – EK, and Chrysostomos Sofianos, former minister in the Kyprianou government, formed the Pancyprian Front of Renewal – PAME.
The May 1981 elections were held under a new system, reinforced proportionality. It provided that a party was eligible to take part in the second allocation of seats provided that it had secured in the first allocation of seats at least one seat and overall 8% of the vote, or 10% without a seat.
The three new parties failed to win a seat in the House of Representatives. AKEL, won the highest share (32.8%) and elected 12 MPs, as many as second ranked DISY (31.9%), DIKO won 19.5% and elected eight MPs and EDEK, with 8.2%, elected three.
In view of the expected in February 1983 presidential elections, DIKO and AKEL came to an agreement in April 1982 on the basis of a “minimum” program of cooperation. AKEL’s support allowed Spyros Kyprianou to win the election with a comfortable 56.5%, while Glafkos Clerides was limited to 33.9% and Vassos Lyssarides to 9.5%.
The next parliamentary elections were held earlier, in December 1985. In the meantime, the Parliament had decided to increase the number of seats to 80 against 50 in force, which corresponded to 56 (against 35) for the Greek Cypriots. DISY occupied the first place with 33.6% and 19 MPs, DIKO increased its share to 27.6% and became the second political force with 16 seats. AKEL lost more than five points and with 27.4% it secured 15 seats, while EDEK exceeded 11% of the vote and got 6 seats.
Community /village elections were held in May 1984 to elect community presidents, village councils and improvement councils.
One year later, in May 1986, mayoral and municipal council elections were held for the first time in the Republic of Cyprus. AKEL elected the largest number of mayors.
1988 marked the first smooth change of power in the Republic of Cyprus. Businessman George Vassiliou, backed by AKEL, won the presidency in a two-round election, with a slight difference from Glafkos Clerides (51.6% versus 48.4%). Supporters of his candidacy included the newly formed Liberal Party, led by Nikos Rolandis, former minister in the government of Spyros Kyprianou.
In 1989, Community elections were held to elect community presidents, village councils and improvement councils.
Changes on the world stage and the collapse of the Soviet Union and the regimes in the countries of central and eastern Europe had their repercussions in Cyprus. Following a party crisis in 1989-90, a group of AKEL MPs and officials left or were expelled from the party and formed with center-left forces the Renewal Democratic Socialist Movement – ADISOK, in April 1990, under the leadership of Pavlos Diglis. Another new scheme emerged, the Cyprus Refugee Party (PAKOP), led by Giannakis Erotokritou.
PAKOP contested the May 1991 elections, with candidates in Kyrenia, Famagusta and Nicosia, which are constituencies with refugees. PAKOP and ADISOK failed to win seats in parliament. DISY allied with the Liberal Party won again the first place with 35.8% and 20 seats. It was followed by AKEL with 30.6% and 18 seats, while DIKO with 19.5% had a significant decrease of its influence, with EDEK remaining stable at around 11%. In Parliament, DIKO and EDEK had 11 and seven seats respectively.
After the elections, a DISY’s friendly approach to DIKO began. DISY supported Alexis Galanos of DIKO to the presidency of the Parliament and achieved co-operation in the municipal elections held in December 1991. DISY behaved generously, offering a large number of municipalities to DIKO candidates and supporting their election.
In the following presidential election, in February 1993, DISY’s Glafkos Clerides, who had failed election in 1983 and 1988, won the presidency. DIKO and EDEK presented a common candidate, Paschalis Paschalides, while AKEL continued its support to George Vassiliou. The bitter failure of the DIKO and EDEK candidate led DIKO to change its traditional hostile attitude and support Glafkos Clerides in the second round of the election. In a tough showdown, Clerides won the presidency over George Vassiliou by a margin of 2000 votes.
In June 1995 a new electoral system, single proportionality, was adopted, which increased the hopes of small parties to win seats in the House. The New Horizons and the Environmentalists Movement, together with the Free Democrats – KED Movement that was founded in 1994 by former President George Vassiliou, contested seats in Parliament for the first time, in the May 1996 parliamentary elections. In the elections, DIKO and EDEK suffered significant losses, with the former slipping down to 16.4% and EDEK to 8.1%. The Democratic Rally which contested the election with the Liberal Party, suffered also some losses, securing 34.4%, while AKEL gained about 2.5 points and a share of 33% and 19 seats. KED secured 3.7% of the vote and entered the House with two deputies.
In the municipal elections of December 1996, AKEL cooperated with EDEK, and DISY cooperated with DIKO. The center-left alliance elected 16 mayors out of a total of 24.
In the February 1998 presidential election, AKEL and DIKO, which ruled for nearly five years with DISY, supported the candidacy of George Iakovou, who topped slightly Glafkos Clerides in the first round (40.6% vs. 40.06%). In the second round, however, Glafkos Clerides won a second term, with 50.8% of the vote.
In the 27 May 2001 elections eight parties entered the parliament. AKEL secured 34.7%, its highest rate ever, DISY followed with 34%. Significant losses were again suffered by DIKO, receiving 14.8%, and KISOS, with 6.5%, as well as the United Democrats – EDI with 2.6%. KISOS had succeeded EDEK (2000), while EDI was the product of the merger of KED with ADISOK. They secured a seat, as did New Horizons with 3%, the Ecologists-Environmentalists Movement with 2% and the Democratic Fighting Movement – ADIK of former minister Dinos Michaelides, with 2.2%.
Turkish Cypriot Elections after 1974
The invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by the Turkish army, which followed the coup d’etat by the Greek junta, in July 1974, led to the complete segregation of the two communities, by September 1975. As early as Christmas 1963, the two communities lived separately, with the Turkish Cypriots trapped in enclaves, under siege.
Power was entirely in the hands of the Greek Cypriots, political life in the Turkish Cypriot community was non-existent, while in the Greek Cypriot community, only from 1970 a rudimentary political activity started.
Following the division of summer 1974, the Turkish Cypriot leadership began working to transform the Provisional Autonomous Administration, which it declared in December 1967, into a state power. A few days after the signing of an agreement for a Federal solution by President Makarios and Rauf Denktaş, the latter proclaimed the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus – KTFD. On 8 June 1975, the constitution for the new entity, which did not receive international recognition, except by Turkey, was approved almost “unanimously”, in a referendum, with 99.4%,. It is noted that the complete separation of the population had not yet occurred because a few thousand (about eight thousand) Turkish Cypriots still remained in their villages in the south. They were transferred to the northern part of the island in August and September 1975, following what was called the Third Vienna Agreement.
In 1975, Rauf Denktaş founded the National Unity Party – UBP and in 1976 another new party followed, the center-left Communal Liberation Party – TKP. Rauf Denktaş and the UBP will dominate Turkish Cypriot politics until the 1990s.
From 1976 until today, elections have been held every four years for city councils and mayors, as well as community councils and community presidents. In 1980 the second local elections were held.
In 1976, there were also contests for the election of a president and of members of parliament, which were set at 40. It is noted that their term was set at five years, while for local authorities it has remained at four years. Denktaş dominated with 76.5%, followed by Berberoglu with 21.9%, while the National Unity Party – UBP prevailed with 53.7%. The Communal Liberation Party – TKP secured 20% and the Republican Turkish Party – CTP 12.9%, one point more than the People’s Party – Halkçı Parti – HP.
In the following contests, in 1981, Denktaş was marginally imposed with 51.7%, against 30.5% of Ziyia Rizki, of the Communal Liberation Party – TKP and 12.7% of Özker Özgür, of the Republican Turkish Party – CTP. The National Unity Party prevailed again with 42.5%, with the Community Liberation Party following, with an increase to 28.5%. The Turkish Union Party – TBP, the first political force representing settlers – got 5.5%. with its percentage in settler communities averaging 30.6%.
On November 15, 1983, the Turkish Cypriot leadership unilaterally declared the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – KKTC and in May 1985 organized a referendum which with 70.2% approved its constitution. The United Nations condemned the declaration, and to date only Turkey has recognized this entity.
In 1985, Rauf Denktaş was re-elected with 70.2%, while the National Unity Party -UBP suffered more losses, falling to 36.8%, with the Republican Turkish Party – CTP coming in second with 21.4%. The new force representing the settlers, the Renaissance Party – YDP, joined by the Turkish Union Party, received 8.8%. The average share of votes he secured in settler communities was 47.4%.
Opposition outcry against Rauf Denktaş led to the alliance of the Republican Turkish Party – CTP, the Communal Liberation Party – TKP and the Settlers’ Party – YDP under the label the Democratic Struggle Party – DMP. However, they did not succeed in the overthrow, as Denktaş won their common candidate Ismail Bozkurt with 66.7% and UBP prevailed with about 54.6%. This was followed by a questioning of the result, as fraudulent, the withdrawal of the opposition and a by-election in 1991 which gave UBP 46 of the 50 seats.
The rift beween Rauf Denktaş and Derviş Eroğlu led to a split in the National Unity Party – UBP and the birth of the Democratic Party – DP to 1992. In the early 1993 elections, the UBP and DP were tied for seats and a share of the vote of around 28% and for the first time, UBP lost power. The Democratic Party formed a coalition with the Republican Turkish Party, which was in the process of changing its ideology towards Social Democracy.
Following the participation of the Republican Turkish Party – CTP to power and the change in leadership in 1996, with Mehmet Ali Talat succeeding Özker Özgür, the party suffered severe losses in 1998. It lost nine points of its 1993 vote share (24.2%) and seven of 13 seats, it fell to fourth place, after UBP, which triumphed over DP winning 40.2% against 22.6% of the vote, and the Communal Liberation Party (15.4%). The election was contested under a new system of block vote, where one give votes of preference to candidates across party lists.
In 2000, Rauf Denktaş’s power appeared weakened as in his bid for re-election he faced for the first time a second round challenge by Derviş Eroğlu, who finally withdrew before the vote.
The prospects of an eventual solution and Cyprus joining the European Union generated a strong movement in the Turkish Cypriot community with tens of organisations joining forces under the slogan “this country is ours”. Massive demonstrations were organised in support and the election on December 2003 appeared a crucial one for the future of the community and the island as a whole. A new movement, the Peace and Democracy Movement – BDH, headed by Mustafa Akıncı, was born. However, the fragmentation of political forces resulted in left and conservative forces finishing head to head, commanding 25 seats each. For a second time, the Republican Turkish Party – CTP, which finished first, with 35.2%, ahead of the National Unity Party, 32.9%, shared power with the Democratic Party, with Mehmet Ali Talat, heading the coalition.
Early elections were again on the agenda in February 2005, following the collapse of the coalition, and CTP was the clear winner with 44.5%. Two months later, Talat won the elections against main opponent Eroğlu and succeeded to Rauf Denktaş, who did not seek re-election.
The situation reverted to the dominance of the conservative forces, when Eroğlu, who had appeared to have retired from politics in 2006, returned in 2009 with a victory for his party UBP in April 2009 and for himself, winning against incumbent Talat.
A reversal took place again in an early contest in July 2013, with CTP, under a new leader – Özkan Yorgancıoğlu, winning with 38.4% against 27.3% for UBP.
In 2015, Mustafa Akıncı was elected in a -two-round contest against Derviş Eroğlu, Sibel Siber – candidate of CTP and former Turkish Cypriot negotiator Kudret Özersay.
The January 2018 election was contested under a new system that goes beyond block vote. One can give preference votes to candidates not only across party lists of his/her constituency, but also of other constituencies. Again, CTP and UBP alternated on top, with UBP, which had a new leader Hüseyin Özgürgün, securing 35.6%, and CTP down to 20.9% only. A new force emerged, the People’s Party – HP (f. 2016) of Kudret Özersay, with its share at 17.1%.