Monday, 8 June 2015

My thoughts and analysis on the recent Turkish general election

Yesterday, the voters of Turkey went to the polls-and the result delivered a decisive blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who from 2002 to 2014 was Prime Minister of Turkey.

The conservative, right-wing Justice and Development Party (AKP) finally lost its majority after 13 years of power, although with 258 seats it is still the largest party in the Grand National Assembly, and may worryingly still be able to continue as a minority government, or, worse still, with the more extreme Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) as coalition partners; the MHP gained 21 seats. Usefully, though, the left-wing Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) won 80 seats in the new assembly by passing the 10% threshold (its candidates previously stood as independents as independent candidates are exempt from the threshold).

The 10% threshold for representation (except for independent candidates) is the highest of any parliament using proportional representation for elections, and in practice is very unfair to minor parties and especially parties advocating Kurdish interests within Turkey; it has clearly been responsible for AKP holding majority power for so long even though the AKP has never won at least 50% of the votes cast in any Turkish election. The most recent years of AKP power have been marked by unjustifiable internet censorship, brutal violence towards peaceful protestors in Ankara, corruption scandals, and increasing centralisation of power. Nevertheless, the AKP vote only dropped from 49.8% to 40.9%.

From this point onward, AKP support may fade in the long term, despite more centrist parties not being able to gain significant support from the electorate in this election. Whether this election will also change the future of Turkey and lead to less authoritarianism and corruption now that AKP no longer has a majority remains to be seen-but one can hope.


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