Boycotting election is inappropriate, unacceptable and contradicts with the fundamental tenets of democratic governance.

Why would one choose not to vote? Why do people opt to go to picnic rather than the ballot box? How is it that for some people, BBQ might be more appealing than voting? That is something I have never understood; or at least, until now.

It is a first for me since I came of voting age. I hold dual citizenship of Turkey and North Cyprus, and I have always voted in every single election in both countries until now. But for the first time, I will not be casting a vote on January 7th parliamentary elections in Northern Cyprus. Actually, I cannot make up my mind for whom and which policies to vote for. It is as if the changed electoral procedures were changed to add further confusion and dismay the electorate. Why was such a system put into place? Who created this system, and what were they thinking? Why the entire TRNC was turned into a single electoral district? Who is trying to hide what with such a complicated electoral system? Perhaps a master’s degree is required to understand how the electorate will make preferences? Or, can we assume that the system was complicated deliberately by the political parties, hoping the electorate just stamp the parties instead of casting ballots with preferences marked?

If you paid attention, you must have realized that, apart from the rather limited and insufficient discourse of the newly established People’s Party, the Cyprus issue and policies how to solve it have not been part of the campaign at all. I am sorry, but you do not run a decent campaign with shots below the belt, muddying the waters with love and sex scandals. Who cares who the prime minister had affairs with? Who might bother whether he got a divorce or had some extramarital affairs? That is private life. However, there is also the incredible monetary movements, huge sums moving from one bank account to the other and all these were documented during the premier’s divorce case. Plush villas were bought, changed hands. Luxurious cars were alleged to have been presented to a lady as gift. These, of course, and similar sensitive financial revelations smelling very bad ought to be answered. You cannot make these issues go away by sealing your lips. The election results will make it clear: TRNC seems poised to go through another İrsen Küçük affair. Four years ago Küçük’s National Unity Party (UBP) emerged from the elections as the second biggest party, however Küçük, because of the preferential D’Hont electoral system in Northern Cyprus could not be elected. That was how Hüseyin Özgürgün, a former sports and foreign minister, became party leader and prime minister. Now, could he be the next premier and UBP leader whose political future terminated in the ballot box?

And what about education? Which party or candidate took education seriously? All we heard regarding education was superficial polemics about whether the New Year was celebrated at this school or the other. Schools have been taken over by a teachers’ union the leaders of which do not hide their adoration of Greeks. There is the ongoing segregation between “local teachers” and “imported teachers” – meaning teachers from Turkey. What policies are the political parties proposing in overcoming the sharp retreat of the educational system? Overall education standards at Turkish Cypriot schools have been on a downward slope for years? No politician seems to either worry or care.

And how about the assets of the foundations, which have either been physically raided, or else rented out to favorites for political gain? Is anyone talking about this? I certainly don’t see it.

The traffic is a mess. Any proposals for a solution here? Periodic road constructions and rehabilitations are, of course, necessary, but will we provide travel safety solely by installing cameras? What is the policy here?  There isn’t any.

Everywhere you look it is the same. This is the first time that elections are not held under the eulogy of valor and nationalism. That is so good. But has there been any discussion at all on any serious issue this time around? Some entertaining bones were thrown around such as legalizing marijuana for personal use, but how about anything concrete on any social issue?

I must have lost the thread, I guess.

On the other hand, since a new Cyprus talks process is going to get a head start in or around March – once Greek Cypriot presidential elections are left behind as well – shouldn’t the political parties have already stated their stance on basic issues especially after the Turkish Cypriot president and his negotiation delegation have returned to their much accustomed “give and get rid of it” state of mind as if it was not they who witnessed the Greeks’ unwillingness for a solution at Crans Montana?

Which basic issues, you may ask. How about security, the guarantees, the status of Turkish soldiers on the island, Turkey’s right to unilateral intervention, the future of Güzelyurt (Morphou), Yesilirmak, Kormacit, even Değirmenlik, and other residential districts that were mentioned this way or the other within the territorial adjustments discussions during the last round of talks? How about rotating presidency and political equality? Even the question of whether or not we favor a federal structure, or else, the two-state EU membership?

Turkish Cypriots and their future on Cyprus was in a way saved in 2017 by the obstinate and uncompromising attitude of the Greek Cypriot leader. If it was left to Turkish Cypriot president and his defeatist negotiating team, the guarantees, Turkey’s unilateral right to intervene and the Turkish military presence on the island would all be gone by now. 2018 presents many challenges ahead. I am worried. But I still 2018 turns out to be a peaceful year. My only assurance in case the current Turkish Cypriot negotiations team signs to a total surrender, the TRNC public will nullify that deal at a referendum. I wish our political parties had made their policies on these fundamental issues known by now.

Why weren’t any of these discussed in a public forum?

What will we vote for and for what purpose? I hope you forgive me, but I have lost all enthusiasm. I do what I found despicable in others, and choose not to vote this time.