Nationalist candidate Ersin Tatar has secured a narrow victory in North Cyprus’s ‘presidential election’.
The Turkish Cypriot “prime minister” secured 51.7% of the vote in a second round run-off against the incumbent ‘president’ Mustafa Akıncı.
Akıncı won 48.3%, local election authorities said on Sunday night.
“We are the voice of Turkish Cypriots,” Tatar told jubilant supporters of his National Union Party (UBP) on Sunday night.
“We deserve independence. We are fighters. We are fighting to exist within the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’.
“Therefore our neighbours in the south [of Cyprus] and the world community should respect our fight for freedom.”
The Greek-run Republic of Cyprus, based in the south, is considered by the international community to be the only legal government on the island.
North Cyprus has held democratic elections since it unilaterally declared independence in 1983, but only Turkey recognises it as an independent country.
Tatar’s defeated rival Mustafa Akıncı, the outgoing ‘president’, had said if he was re-elected he would try to restart peace negotiations with the Greeks aimed at reunifying the island.
He conceded defeat on Sunday but told reporters: “this was not an election conducted under normal conditions”.
That may have been a veiled reference to an apparent intervention in the North Cypriot election campaign from mainland Turkey.
Two weeks ago Tatar appeared alongside President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to announce the opening of Varosha, a Greek Cypriot town that had been abandoned for nearly half a century.
His opponents said it was an act of interference in North Cyprus’s election.
Analysts saıd the victory of a nationalist candidate means a deal to reunite Cyprus after half a century is even less likely.