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Homepage > Regions / Countries > Europe > Turkey-Cyprus > Turkey > Five Takeaways From The Turkish Election

Five Takeaways From The Turkish Election

Nigar Göksel , Hugh Pope, Politico  |   8 Jun 2015

ISTANBUL — Turkey voted on Sunday. The results are eye-catching, and certainly worth parsing for a world that awaits explanation. Here are five quick conclusions for a wide audience.

  1. After 12 years in power, the tide has turned against Erdoğan

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s apparently unstoppable rise hit a democratic bumper in Turkey’s parliamentary elections on Sunday, despite his presiding over 12 mostly boom years at the top of Turkey’s political system and the fact that his party won more than 40 percent of the vote.

Erdoğan began the election season by setting his followers a goal of winning 400 of parliament’s 550 seats for the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The idea was to change the constitution and legitimize the executive powers he is already using in practice. Even on election night, his stalwart advisor Yiğit Bulut was still in denial about AKP’s setback, insisting that “this result means one thing: an executive presidency.”

This is now most unlikely to happen. What happened to Erdoğan, one of Turkey’s luckiest, canniest and most charismatic politicians?

For sure, Turks have become tired of a creeping authoritarianism, a narrowing space for opposition, tightening state control of the judiciary, policy mistakes in Syria and the Middle East, and an extravagant 1,150-room presidential palace.

But the most bitter paradox for Erdoğan is that it may have been precisely his personal engagement to clinch a supremely powerful executive presidency that backfired, leaving AKP as the largest single party, but without a parliamentary majority or an obvious coalition partner.

Casting aside the traditionally neutral role of Turkey’s president — a five-year position he has held for less than a year — Erdoğan stepped in to spearhead his old party’s campaign, haranguing vast crowds about ‘we’ (the ruling party) against ‘them’. Using sometimes vitriolic language, he claimed all the other parties had “formed gangs” against AKP, and were siding with foreign “conspirators” and “terrorists.”

The result: The anti-Erdoğan camp indeed reacted against his attempt to consolidate power. Enough of them persuaded their friends to vote for a small Kurdish nationalist party that for once topped Turkey’s 10 per cent threshold of the national vote to get into parliament on its own account.

This swing of about five percent against AKP completely upset nearly 13 years of Turkish parliamentary arithmetic. Whatever happens next, Erdoğan has lost his old ability to control the government and possibly even his party from his presidential post.

To continue reading this article, please go to the Politico website. 

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