Maturity of Turkish democracy

Published 08.06.2015 01:37
Updated 08.06.2015 18:20

The election turnout and the current picture in Parliament shows the maturity of the Turkish democratic system

The parliamentary elections have taken place and have given a very interesting result. First of all, the elections saw an unprecedented mobilization of Turkish civil society. A movement that very largely transcended the political cleavages has seen the day when mostly citadine and usually apolitical Turks organized themselves through social media and established a very efficient working system of elections monitoring. All these people were allowed to perform their tasks loosely, despite some incidents, which shows the maturity of the Turkish democratic system. These elections have probably been the most closely scrutinized elections by international observers since the coup in 1980, and their evaluation will show the maturity of Turkish society and the transparency of Turkish elections. These are extremely important factors in a region of the world where ethnic, sectarian, nationalistic or political strife has turned into bloody wars and conflicts. Countries are torn apart, immense populations have to migrate to save their lives while in Turkey we witness vibrant democratic elections.

Secondly, the almighty Justice and Development Party (AK Party), in government since 2002, has achieved a very honorable result of 40.8 percent, which would be seen as a success in any European country after 13 years in power. However, the AK Party was not able to secure a majority in seats in Parliament, falling very likely short of at least 20 seats. This will certainly create political turbulence in coming days and weeks.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the so-called pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has secured an unbelievable score of over 12 percent of the vote, doubling its normal electoral support and winning seats in major cities in the western part of Turkey, securing at least 10 to 11 seats in Istanbul. This clearly shows the reconciliation of a very sizeable part of the non-Kurdish electorate of Turkey with the HDP. The latter has received a blank check for its endeavor to become a political force not only for the Kurds, but for all of Turkey. Time will show whether it will be able to fulfill its promises, but the support of the electorate has already created a historic turn.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's strategy to be very active on all fronts was crowned with success in the March 2014 local elections and August 2014 presidential election. He pursued the same approach with ever-increasing vigor, but this time the strategy seems to have recoiled. The AK Party, for the first time since its creation, has failed to mobilize enough supporters. It should be noted still that a very robust 41 percent of the electorate remain loyal to the party and it would be very very hard to circumvent the AK Party to form a coalition government by the three distinct political forces that have not much, or any, in common, except their rejection of the AK Party.

That brings us to the conclusion of this electoral contest. There is a clear message sent by the voters for a more democratic, decentralized Turkey, which definitely needs a better constitution and a better electoral system?.?

This is a unique chance to form a national reconciliation platform to establish the framework of a truly pluralistic democracy for the 21st century. Turkey has shown its maturity to implement such a grandiose social model and project. It remains the only country in the region able to redeem itself, after a very tense, very conflictual and bloody election campaigns. The opposition parties are not at all on this wavelength, with both the CHP and HDP declaring their aim to govern alone in the foreseeable future. But once the ecstasy of election night is gone, they would be well inspired to take the voters' message seriously.

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