In Multipolarity, Turkey / Türkiye

New Cold War.org, Nov 2, 2015

Supporters of Turkish President Recep Erdogan (Reuters)

Supporters of Turkish President Recep Erdogan (Reuters)

On November 1, a legislative election took place in Turkey for all 550 seats in the national Parliament. It was the second election this year. An earlier election on June 7 produced no majority winner. Key to that outcome was the success of the left-wing, Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). It won 13 per cent of the vote and gained Parliamentary representation for the first time.

After June 7, the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan eschewed serious negotiations to form a coalition government and took a gamble last month when it convened a new election for November 1, hoping to win a majority. The gamble paid off.

The vote of the HDP declined by one million (several percentage points), but the party held onto its representation in Parliament by virtue of exceeding the ten per cent minimum threshold. A deadly blow was delivered to the HDP’s election campaign on October 10 when two suicide bombers attacked an antiwar rally in Ankara supported by the party, killing some one hundred people and wounding hundreds more.

Enclosed are three news reports on the election, plus background reading.


First thoughts after the election

From the Facebook page of Chris Stephenson, a writer from the UK living in Turkey, Sunday, November 1, 2015

The polls were badly wrong. So were we. I was alone among friends writing down predictions this morning in thinking the HDP vote would go down, but I only predicted the vote going down to 12.5%. What happened? Results were:

Justice and Development Party (AKP) 49%, 317 seats
Republican People’s Party (CHP) 25%, 134 seats
Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) 10.7%, 59 seats
National Movement Party (MHP) 12% (approximately), 40 seats

The strategy of violence and destabilisation by the government achieved its objective – a majority in parliament for the AK Party. The AK Party increased its vote from 41% to 49%. CHP lost 0.5%, MHP lost 4.3%, HDP lost 2.5%, smaller parties were squeezed for the rest.

Turkey election results Nov 1, 2015

Turkey election results Nov 1, 2015

AK Party stole the far right MHP’s nationalist clothes and got a big slice of their votes, this swing compounded by the MHP’s refusal to form a  coalition with the AK Party, and the AKP’s transfer of Tugrul Türkes, the son of  the founder of the MHP, Alpaslan Türkes to become deputy Prime Minister in the AKP led temporary government.

Some, but not all, religiously conservative minded Kurds in Turkey’s South East who had always voted for conservative parties before last June switched back to AK Party.

There is no evidence at all of any of the so-called “loan” votes from western Turkey going back from HDP to CHP. The CHP vote went up by only 0.36%.

Conclusions

If we had got this result in June we would have been over the moon. Getting over the threshold was the best scenario we had going into the June election. We got over the threshold again.

If we had got the result the polls were predicting, we would have most probably had an AKP-MHP coalition. Instead we have an AKP government elected with votes from the MHP. The policies of an AKP-MHP coalition would possibly have been even worse that those we will now face from AKP.
The task of opposing war and building a broad based  peace movement remains the same.

AK Party used the violent power of the state to win the election, partly by intimidating some Kurds, partly by blaming the Kurds for the violence. This contradictory policy may work once. It will not work all of the time.

The Kurdish votes that went back to AKP did so on the premise that this will ensure a return to peace. These are the real “loan” votes in this election. The peace process has to continue.

The job of developing a broad based anti-war movement remains our central task. Some over optimistic expectations (some of them wildly over optimistic) will mean a certain amount of disappointment in the movement. That disappointment should be moderated by thinking about how far forward we have come since the day before the June election. We have a job to do. And an obligation to the dead and injured of the last five months to do that job.

Read also:
Turkey election: President Erdogan tightens his grip on power in surprise landslide victory, by Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, Nov 2, 2015

Turkish election campaign unfair, say international monitors, by Kareem Shaheen, in Ankara, The Guardian, Nov 2, 2015
Violence against opposition parties and their premises, arrests and crackdown on press freedom hindered ability to campaign freely, report says

… While President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party did not reach the necessary number of MPs to change the constitution and push through his desired presidential system, the AKP, their talking heads, and their media (just recently expanded through the seizure of more opposition media outlets) will put the issue back on the agenda. Indeed, they have already begun: one of Erdogan’s senior advisors, Yigit Bulut, said in his statement celebrating the AKP’s electoral victory, “Welcome, presidential system!”

Erdogan’s victory by violence, by Guney Isikara, Alp Kayserilioglu, & Max Zirngast, Jacobin magazine, Nov 2, 2015
The ruling AKP won yesterday’s Turkish election through sheer violence and repression

Moscow-Ankara tensions over Syria as Russia halts Turkish truck traffic at its border, full compilation of news and analysis on New Cold War.org, Oct 28, 2015

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