The centre-left Republican Turkish Party (CTP) emerged as the winner on Monday in the Turkish Cypriot parliamentary elections held at the weekend, but came short of winning an outright majority.
The CTP won 38.49 per cent of the vote and 21 seats in the 50-seat Parliament of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, results showed.
The nationalist National Unity Party (UBP) won 27.16 per cent and 14 seats and the centre-right Democratic Party (DP) took 23.1 per cent of the vote and 12 seats.
The centre-left Communal Democracy Party (TDP) won 7.41 per cent of the vote and three seats.
The CTP will now need to form a coalition government, with either the UBP or the DP seen as prospective partners to receive a mandate to form a government.
The turnout for the Sunday vote was 70 per cent among the 173,000 registered voters, roughly the same proportion as in 2009.
The election was called a year early after the Government of Prime Minister Irsen Kucuk, in power since 2009, lost a vote of no confidence after eight Members of Parliament left his conservative National Unity Party (UBP) in May amid anger over austerity measures.
A caretaker government has since been in place, headed by Sibel Siber, the territory’s first female premier. It comprises two social democratic parties — her Republican Turkish Party (CTP) and the Communal Democratic Party — and the conservative Democratic Party.
The election came ahead of a new round of peace talks planned for October to settle the future of the Mediterranean island.
Cyprus has been divided into a Turkish northern part and a Greek south since a Turkish invasion in July 1974.
A military coup in Cyprus deposed then President and Archbishop Makarios III and replaced him with Nikos Sampson, who favoured uniting the majority-Greek island with Greece.
Turkey responded by invading Cyprus, ultimately occupying around 40 per cent of the island. In 1983, the Turkish-occupied north declared itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, but the United Nations rejected the declaration as illegal.
The UN and countries other than Turkey regard the territory as a Turkish-occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus, which controls the south of the island and has been a member of the European Union since 2004.