Following its victory in the 2009 election, the National Unity Party, NUP – UBP returned to power, while in April 2010 its leader, Derviş Eroğlu, emerged from the polls as the leader of the Turkish Cypriots. Once again in its history, the NUP suffered a split, and lost power in May 2013, due to the resignation of eight of its MPs. The early elections, on 28 July 2013, gave the victory to the Republican Turkish Party, (RTP – CTP) with 38.4%, while the KEE – UBP fell by 17 points compared to 2009, to 27.3%. The Democratic Party, (DP – DP) followed with 23.2%.

The economic crisis was a major issue during this period for both sides in Cyprus. Already, after his election as President of the Republic, in February 2013, Nikos Anastasiades dedicated his first year to managing the problems in the economy. The Cyprus Issue was not on top of the agenda, though efforts were made to agree on a framework for the talks, the procedure and the goals. They resumed after the publication of a joint declaration by Anastasiades and Eroğlu in mid-February 2014. However, they were in a stalemate in the summer of 2014, caused by tensions related to hydrocarbon explorations in the eastern Mediterranean. The impasse continued until the April 2015 contest for the leadership of the Turkish Cypriots.

Opponents of Derviş Eroğlu, who was running for re-election at the age of 77, were:

Mustafa Akıncı, who had already a long involvement in Turkish Cypriot politics with a record in intercommunal cooperation. As Turkish Cypriot mayor of Nicosia, he had worked together with the mayor of Nicosia, Lellos Demetriades, during difficult times even for simple inter-communal contact, after 1978. Their two major projects were the central sewerage system, which covered the entire divided city and the Nicosia Master Plan, which aimed at the development of the city in such a way that when reunited it would be ready with a common infrastructure. He was also the leader of the Communal Liberation Party, CLP – TKP, which was founded in 1976, for 14 years (1987 – 2001). He then took over the leadership of the Movement for Peace and Democracy – MPD – BDH, which was created in 2003 with the goal of resolving the Cyprus Problem and bringing a united Cyprus into the European Union. He handed over the leadership when the movement merged with his former party to form the Social Democratic Party, SDP-TDP, in 2007. His candidacy was supported by the SDP.

Sibel Siber, ran as the candidate of the Republican Turkish Party. She served as Speaker of Parliament and before the July 2013 election she headed the interim government. She was the first woman to hold such an office.

Kudret Özersay was appointed by Eroğlu as interlocutor in the talks for the Cyprus Problem in February 2014, to resign a few months later when he announced his intention to run. He was an academic and the founder of a movement entitled “Toparlanıyoruz”.

Mustafa Onurer, the candidate of the small Socialist Party of Cyprus, and independents Arif Salih Kırdağ and Mustafa Ulaş also ran.

Derviş Eroğlu, with the support of his party and the Democratic Party – DP, led by Serdar Denktaş, promised a quick solution to the Cyprus problem, to establish a People’s Council for the Cyprus Problem, a Youth Council and a Council for Women. He stressed the close relationship with Turkey and the need to remain a guarantor for Cyprus.

Mustafa Akıncı presented four policy axes, to pursue policies for a solution to the Cyprus Problem, to be an independent and impartial president, to respond appropriately to social problems and to have a relationship of mutual respect with Turkey. The latter deviated from the practice that wanted Turkey to be a protector of the Turkish Cypriot community. This was a recall to Akıncı’s position for the emancipation of the Turkish Cypriots, which had already brought him into conflict with Ankara in 2001.

Sibel Siber stressed the need to resolve the Cyprus Problem, to promote social justice for all, including Turkish Cypriots and Turkish settlers, as well as a more active role of the leader in communal affairs.

Kudret Özersay argued that nepotism and party policies serving their own people should end. His goal, he said, was to restore the role of institutions that had been alienated from the public.

Despite the important issues at stake at the election, turnout was relatively low. It was reduced to 62.4%, confirmingteachings of political science, according to which, during times of crisis, phenomena of bigger alienation of the public from public affairs are observed. The results brought four candidates at short distance apart, with Eroğlu ahead, with 28.2%. Akıncı followed with 26.9%, Siber with 22.5% and Özersay with 21.3%.

Eroğlu and Akıncı qualified for the second round. The Turkish Republican Party backed Akıncı’s candidacy, while Özersay, unhappy with the result, announced that he would not call for support for any of the two candidates.

Akıncı won the election with a clear majority of 60.5%. Despite the importance of the contest, voter mobilization remained low, with turnout slightly exceeding 64%.