The hangover

Published 15.06.2015 22:15
Updated 15.06.2015 22:16

Now that the elections are over, the public is recovering slowly from a big electoral surprise. The Justice and Development (AK Party), in government for 13 uninterrupted years, has for the first time failed to secure a majority of seats in Parliament. This has been heralded as a major victory for the opposition. In a way, it is because this is the first time that there is a notable disaffection on the part of AK Party voters in the absence of an economic crisis or a political bottleneck. The real surprise was the performance of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which secured the support of a very large majority of Kurdish voters, whose votes were traditionally split almost evenly between the AK Party and the Kurdish political movement. This time the proportion turned into one quarter for the AK Party and three quarters for the HDP. It is very unlikely that such a vote swing would change in a short period of. The second surprise came from an important increase in votes for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the conservative, nationalist party founded by Alpaslan Türkeş. The MHP has turned into a mass party, very conservative and inward looking, without much to offer as a political project, but collecting reactionary votes from those who feel concerned about the Kurdish issue development and who fear a partitioning of Turkey.

As a matter of fact, these two peripheral political movements have seen their electoral support increase, whereas the two mainstream parties, the government party and the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) have both regressed in terms of votes. This can be explained mostly by the turmoil reigning on the southern border of Turkey - the situation on the other borders is not brilliant either, but what is happening in northern Syria defies the capacity of human compassion. There are 2 million refugees in Turkey mainly from Syria but also from Iraq. There are many more to come, perhaps an additional 100,000 people, mostly children, women and the elderly. Such a situation of huge numbers of desperate people entering one's country would destabilize any society and any political system. Turkey has coped with the situation rather successfully up until now and this is to the credit of the government. But it had a negative impact on the voters, who do not see any perspective of a solution in Syria and who have to live together with thousands of refugees, some of them begging in the streets.

We have inherited a very fragmented Parliament after the elections. There is total confusion after the hangover of the elections. All sorts of ideas and approaches are being put forward, but nobody really knows what the immediate task of the government would be if there is a government. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has declared that he would first nominate the leader of the first party to form a government, but if he fails to form a coalition, the task would go to the leader of the second party represented in Parliament. Simply said, he is willing to re-nominate first AK Party Chairman Ahmet Davutoğlu as prime minister, then CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu if Davutoğlu is not successful. This means that we will see a number of negotiations in the coming weeks. As seen by the first declarations of political parties' leaders and spokesmen, a coalition is not very easy to build. Obviously, every party will have to swallow a lot of what has been said within the ecstasy of the election's aftermath, but a coalition without the AK Party looks rather unlikely. After the first round of negotiations, we will see better what kind of formulas will be on the table.

Elections can be repeated after a month-and-a-half if the parties cannot establish a workable "modus vivendi." However, nobody can predict whether new elections would give a better distribution of seats in Parliament. The coming weeks will also be a litmus test for the Turkish political elite regarding their political maturity. One thing is evident - no democratic country can cope with a long and unpredictable uncertainty period. It is up to the Turkish political elite to continue the stability, which may not take the form of a restoration as demanded by the opposition parties.

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