Residents of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) will cast their ballots for a second time after the candidates in the country’s presidential elections failed to secure more than 50% of the vote in the first round.
With 98.64% of ballot boxes opened so far, Prime Minister Ersin Tatar has garnered 32.45%, Bayrak Radio Television Corporation reported Sunday, citing unofficial data by the election authority.
President Mustafa Akinci, an independent candidate, is the runner-up with 29.76%.
Tatar and Akinci will face off in the second round on Oct. 18.
Electorates also voted on a referendum for a constitutional amendment to increase the number of high court judges.
While 49.80% of voters were in favor of the amendment, 50.20% voted against it, according to the count so far.
Speaking on the results, Tufan Erhurman, the candidate of the main opposition Republican Turkish Party, was quoted by Bayrak Radio Television Corporation as saying: "Participation in the elections was very low. As a party, we believe in democracy and respect the will of the people."
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kudret Ozersay, an independent candidate, said on Facebook: "The rate of votes I received is far below my expectation, and it is at a level that requires me to review my political life."
Eleven candidates competed in the election, with seven running as independent candidates.
Some 198,867 registered voters cast ballots in 738 ballot boxes.
Speaking to reporters after the election, Tatar described the initial results of the first round of the polls as “a victory.”
He pointed to the roughly 55% turnout by voters due to the novel coronavirus and said he expects a higher amount of participation in the second round.
“I believe that in the second round, more of our citizens will go to the ballot box and reflect their will at the election. I want to convey this call to all my citizens,” he added.
“The real victory will be ours on Oct. 18,” he added.
Meanwhile, Akinci, the incumbent, said he expects to continue in his post, according to Turkish News Agency-Cyprus (TAK).
Noting that a much more participatory process awaits them in the period after the second round of elections, he said: “I believe that with the support of our people, we will continue our duties as of the morning of Oct. 19.”
The island of Cyprus has been divided into a Turkish Cypriot government in the north and a Greek Cypriot administration in the south since a 1974 military coup aimed at Cyprus' annexation by Greece.
Turkey's military intervention stopped years-long persecution and violence against Turkish Cypriots by ultra-nationalist Greek Cypriots.
By Muhammet Ikbal Arslan in Lefkosa, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus