Cyprus poll may be a close call

ANKARA (AFP) – The ruling and opposition forces in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus are set for a fierce clash in next month’s crucial vote, according to a poll published here yesterday. The Dec. 14 vote is eagerly anticipated by the European Union, which hopes that a victory for the opposition could help the island’s reunification before its accession to the EU in May next year. But the Verso poll, published in Turkey’s Radikal daily, suggested that the two ruling parties still enjoyed considerable support. According to the survey, conducted in mid-October among 2,060 people, the National Unity Party of incumbent administration head Dervis Eroglu could lose about half of its strength, but still come first with 26.2 percent. Another 16.7 percent said they would back Eroglu’s coalition partner, the Democrat Party of Serdar Denktash, son of hardline Turk-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. The main opposition force, the Republican Turkish Party, could nearly double its support and muster 24.1 percent of the vote. Some 11 percent said they would vote for two other opposition parties.