In every election, the majority of Turkey's electorate has always showed that they will not allow terror to disrupt democracy, regardless of which political view they hold. Opinion polls show that the outcome will not be different this time either
Turkey is set to hold general elections on June 7. Political parties all submitted their parliamentary candidate lists to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) on Tuesday. It is possible to outline a projection of the outcome of the election by considering the candidates' profiles. The strongest favored party for the elections is the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which has won three local and three general elections, as well as two referenda over the past 13 years. Opinion polls show the AK Party's vote stands between 45 percent and 50 percent. Unlike other parties, the AK Party has parliamentarians from all of Turkey's 81 provinces populated by various ethnic groups. The AK Party's candidate list shows that the party is concerned about maintaining this characteristic for the upcoming elections as well. The AK Party has included candidates on its list who can appeal to all segments of the electorate, including religious Muslims, non-Muslims, leftist human rights defenders and liberals. Moreover, there are 99 female candidates on the list. The AK Party aims to have 400 deputies in the 550-seat Parliament and to replace the 1982 Constitution, which was established after the 1980 military coup, with a new, civil and democratic constitution.
The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), which founded the modern Republic 90 years ago, generally receives the votes of the military and bureaucratic elites. However, it has not been able to benefit from the advantage of being in the opposition for many years. It receives around 24 percent of the vote, the majority of which is garnered from middle-class urban Turks and Alevis. This is why it is confined to the coastal cities in the west. It failed to have deputies elected from 33 provinces out of a total of 81 in the previous election. It included 103 female candidates on its list and also nominated non-Muslims. Despite being a self-styled social democrat party, the CHP cannot receive votes from politically and economically disadvantaged segments. Its main objective in this election is not to lose the Alevi vote to the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).
The HDP, which will play a key role in the election, is the legal, national and political wing of the outlawed PKK, which has been fighting the Turkish state for 30 years. It managed to enter parliament with 30 independent candidates in the 2011 election. It will run as a party in this election and aims to pass the 10 percent election threshold. Opinion polls show that the party's vote, which has been at 6 percent, has recently exceeded 8 percent. The party, which has thus far mostly been able to only receive votes from separatist Kurds, aims to garner votes from Alevis and the Turkish left in this election. The HDP is represented in fewer provinces and has the greatest number of female candidates. If the party can pass the election threshold, it will have an impact on the number of votes going to the AK Party and the CHP.
The fourth favorite party in the elections is the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which is supported by ultra-nationalist segments in Turkey. Opinion polls show that the party's vote is around 15 to 16 percent. It does not appeal to the whole of Turkey either. In the previous election, it failed to have deputies elected from 47 provinces. It is running its election campaign based on its criticism of the peace talks that the government has been holding with the PKK for the past two years. Its main objective is to increase its vote in the cities. Its second aim is to regain the votes that it lost to the AK Party in several Anatolian cities.
As the June 7 elections approach, this is the picture of Turkish democracy, which was only able to switch to a multi-party system on a sound basis in 1950, even though it was founded in 1923. Despite the heavy political atmosphere, the parties are gearing up for the elections with great enthusiasm. It is a widely accepted democratic tenet that elections are the only legitimate means of gaining political power. Undoubtedly, this is because over the past several years, Turkey has considerably liquidated military tutelage, the military having previously staged coups and issued memoranda at regular intervals. However, there are still bureaucratic tutelary powers that are organized within the state, particularly in the judiciary and security bureaucracy. The Gülen Movement, which is led by former imam Fethullah Gülen, takes the lead among such structures.
It is likely that such tutelary groups might attempt some type of provocation similar to last week's terror act. However, in every election, the majority of Turkey's electorate has always showed that they will not allow terror to disrupt democracy, regardless of which political view they hold. Opinion polls show that the outcome will not be different this time either.