Page last updated at 22:14 GMT, Sunday, 19 April 2009 23:14 UK

Hardliners win N Cyprus election


Supporters of the UBP Party celebrate the election win

Turkish Cypriot nationalists have swept to victory in a parliamentary election in northern Cyprus that could hamper peace talks with Greek Cypriots.

The right-wing National Unity Party (UBP), which favours closer links with Turkey rather than EU membership, has won 44% of the vote.

That leaves the ruling Republican Turkish Party (CTP) of leader Mehmet Ali Talat with only 29%.

Mr Talat retains his position, but his hands will now be tied at peace talks.

Cypriot problem

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish forces invaded the island in response to an attempt by Greek Cypriots to make it part of Greece.

Cyprus map

Frustration at the slow progress of talks aimed at reuniting the island appears to have been a key element in this latest poll, the BBC's Tabitha Morgan reports from Cyprus.

When Turkish Cypriot leader Mr Talat began talks with the Greek Cypriot leader, President Dimitris Christofias, over a year ago, he predicted a deal within months.

As part of the package, the breakaway Turkish Cypriot republic - which is only recognised by Turkey - would have gained automatic membership of the EU.

None of this has happened.

Two-state solution

The leader of the nationalist UBP party, Dervis Eroglu, has said he will be pressing for international recognition for the breakaway state.

Dervis Eroglu casts his vote
UBP party leader Dervis Eroglu has campaigned on a two-state model

The UBP wants the island to remain divided and has its sights on a two-state model.

Mr Eroglu has said that he would be appointing his own representative to accompany Mr Talat to future negotiations - a complication which is likely to make the search for a solution to the Cyprus problem considerably more difficult, our correspondent says.

The last attempt at a negotiated solution to the Cypriot problem - in 2004 - collapsed when Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of a UN settlement plan which was rejected by Greek Cypriot voters.

As a result, Cyprus - or the southern part ruled by Greek Cypriots - joined the European Union that year, while the north remained effectively excluded.

Just under 162,000 people were eligible to participate in Sunday's vote. The provisional election results were released by the Turkish Cypriot administration with 89% of the votes counted.

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