New elections, new perspectives for Turkey

Published 02.11.2015 02:17

This is probably the most transparent and participative election Turkey has witnessed in its democratic history. The current political situation at hand heralds at least a four-year-long political stability

The snap elections have taken place. The results at this hour are still incomplete, but they give a very clear image of what the balances in Parliament will look like for the coming years. Firstly, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, by asking for snap elections to obtain a majority in Parliament for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), has succeeded. The counting is not finished and the official results will be known only at the early hours in the morning, but still there is the blatant reality that the AK Party has done almost as well as its historic victory in 2011 when it obtained more than 49 percent of the vote.

The issue for the June 7 elections was whether the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), as a party and not through a number of independent candidates, would pass the 10 percent national election threshold for representation in Parliament. It did it dexterously with 13 percent of the vote. This time though, the issue was again the HDP, but from a slightly different viewpoint of if it will be able to go beyond the 10 percent threshold and be represented in Parliament? Its inability to enter Parliament would have given the AK Party a much higher number of seats, perhaps not enough to change the Constitution unilaterally, but definitely enough to submit an amended constitution to a public referendum. But the HDP seems to have secured just enough votes to be represented in Parliament, so a more moderate balance in seats will be set among four political parties.The main opposition party CHP, by having failed to get an opposition candidate elected as Parliament speaker, probably showed its ineptitude to be a viable alternative for government and obtained almost the same percentage of votes as it did in the June 7 elections. Everyone expected to see the CHP fare better, but this has not been the case. This will be yet another electoral flop for Kılıçdaroğlu, but it is hard to foresee any tangible change within the party administration.

The real loser of this electoral joust is definitely the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whose chairman, Devlet Bahçeli, will have a hard time explaining how on earth his party managed to lose one-third of all its votes in five months. The "Niet" policy implemented by Bahçeli explains largely the defeat of his party, its worse since 2002. The party will, however, still manage to be represented in Parliament.

Now the political situation heralds at least a four years of political stability. The majority is large enough to let the AK Party govern, however it is short of giving a strong signal to change the parliamentarian regime into a semi-presidential one. The Kurdish political movement is largely represented in Parliament, which will defuse much of the tensions in the southeastern provinces. It is more than likely that the reconciliation process will be resumed for the very simple reason that the proponents of an armed struggle to solve the Kurdish problem in Turkey have been very severely rejected by the immense majority of voters. AK Party leaders have experimented enough to properly evaluate this very important message sent. The Ankara massacre has definitely been seen by voters as a prolongation of the PKK's armed struggle, even though it is unlikely the PKK was involved.

Another consequence that can be drawn is that democratic participation in Turkey is thriving. With 87 percent turnout, with incredibly well-organized voluntary associations that watch over and participate in the counting of votes, Turkey has seen probably the most transparent and participative election in its democratic history. Whether that admirable popular participation can find a reflection in the policy making of the opposition parties is altogether another story. It is time today for Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and their followers to savor a very delicate political strategy, crowned by an unexpectedly large success.

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