Turkish Cypriot President Dervis Eroglu appointed Sibel Siber to head a caretaker government last week after the government of the territory, which is recognized only by Turkey following its 1974 invasion, collapsed on June 5. In an email interview, Michális Michael, research fellow and deputy director of the center for dialogue at La Trobe University, explained the background of the political crisis and its ramifications for the island’s peace process.
WPR: What led to the vote of no confidence against former Prime Minister Irsen Kucuk?
Michális S. Michael: Eight disaffected deputies from the ruling Ulusal Birlik Partisi (National Ruling Party, UBP), aligned with President Dervis Eroglu, resigned from their party and supported a no-confidence censure motion against Prime Minister Irsen Kucuk brought forward by the three main opposition parties: the Cumhuriyetci Turk Partisi (Republican Turkish Party, CTP), the Demokrat Partisi (Democratic Party, DP) and the Toplumcu Demokrasi Partisi (Communal Democracy Party, TDP), giving the motion a 30-18 majority in the 50-member chamber. For about a year prior to their defection, the eight UBP deputies had campaigned to undermine Kucuk’s authority by criticizing his leadership, culminating in a party leadership challenge by Ahmet Kasif, who held the health portfolio. Kucuk, backed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then took internal party disciplinary action against the eight Eroglu-aligned deputies.