Elections were held in Turkey on June 7 to elect the 25th parliament of Turkey, comprised of 550 members of the Grand National Assembly. Over 46 million people voted in this election, a turnout of 86 percent. In a historic vote, the AKP (Justice and Development Party), the ruling party for over 13 years, lost the majority in Parliament.
The AKP, which is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party, did receive 41 percent of the vote, but not enough to form a government. Winning the second most votes, with “around 25 percent,” was the CHP (Republican Peoples’ Party). The MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) came in third with 16.33 percent.
The most shocking news in this election is the HDP’s victory. The HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), made up of mostly the Kurdish minority, won almost 13 percent of the vote, which surpasses the 10 percent necessary to earn representation in Parliament. The HDP drew in a large and diverse crowd of people including “leftists and staunch Erdogan opponents with its message of equality, gay rights and environmental concerns.” A graph done by The Wall Street Journal demonstrates the shift in parliamentary power from the 2011 elections.
The alliance of this dissimilar group of people inside the HDP occurred because of each person’s ultimate goal of weakening the Erdogan regime. Selen Olcay, a local in Istanbul’s Sariyer District, said of this plan, “I voted for H.D.P. because it’s the only party that can break up Erdogan’s bid for absolute power. In this election a lot of Turks abandoned their ideological preferences and voted strategically to derail Erdogan’s one-man rule.”
Erdogan became Prime Minister in 2002 after the AKP won a solid majority in parliament and was voted into presidency in 2014. In 2013, under Erdogan’s supervision, 17 military officials were jailed for life after being “accused of plotting to topple Prime Minster Erdogan’s government.” In June of 2013, Erdogan unleashed riot police on protestors in Gezi Park where they were “tear-gassed, beaten, and hosed out.” Erdogan also has a reputation of viciously silencing the media, even banning Twitter and Youtube in Turkey. Erdogan had plans to rewrite the Turkish constitution to “change the presidency from a ceremonial role to a much stronger executive position” after the 2015 elections. He has been quoted saying, “Democracy is a train that you get off once you reach your destination.”
The AKP, led by Erdogan, has maintained a close relationship with Hamas over the years, demonstrated when Hamas won municipal elections in 2014 and received “a slew of congratulatory calls” from Hamas leaders. Turkey, under Erdogan’s control, provided Hamas with “financial assistance” and “training”. These efforts have been hampered since the Muslim Brotherhood fell from power in Egypt and Hamas was barred “from traveling through the Rafah crossing.” Erdogan has a close relationship with alleged Al Qaeda funder Yasin Qadi. Under AKP rule, the Turkish intelligence agency MIT has been accused of supplying arms to Syrian Jihadists, including Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra. Turkish prosecutors who revealed the arms smuggling scheme have themselves been charged with crimes. Erdogan is also a formal supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and refuses to play a “significant role” in the campaign against the Islamic State. Under Erdogan’s rule, Turkey has done more to undermine U.S. and global security than to uphold it.
After the election results were in, Selahattin Demirtas who leads the “largely Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party” stated, “As of this hour, the debate about the presidency, the debate about dictatorship, is over. Turkey narrowly averted a disaster.” And HDP deputy Sirri Sureyya Onder said of the results, “This was a victory of democracy over political corruption… of peace over war.”
The Lira has dropped to a record low of 2.8094 to the dollar, as the results of this election were made public and political uncertainty heightened in Turkey. The possibility of a coalition government has been discussed, however both the MHP and HDP have stated they will refuse a coalition with the AKP. If the AKP fails in forming a coalition, the next biggest party, the CHP, could be asked to attempt a coalition. Another alternative is an AKP minority government with support from “opposition deputies.” If an agreement for the new government is not settled upon in 45 days, the supreme election board decides if an early parliamentary election will be held, essentially forcing the country to a repeat election.
A statement was released Monday on President Erdogan’s website that said, “I believe that the current situation, which did not permit any party to form a government on its own, will be evaluated healthily and realistically by all parties that have taken part in the race.” He has yet to appear in public since election results were announced.
Mr. Erdogan will still “remain Turkey’s dominant political figure.”