On Sunday, Turkish voters went to the polls in both presidential and parliamentary elections. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan secured the presidency getting 52.6 percent of the votes in the first round disappointing many anti-Erdoğan figures in and outside of Turkey who claimed that the charismatic leader was vulnerable this time because his base was narrowed.
While Erdoğan has garnered more than 26.3 million of the total 56.3 million votes, which is 11 million votes more than his closest opponent and 3 million more than all the other candidates, he also surpassed his performance in the last presidential elections. In 2014, Erdoğan got 51.8 percent of the votes, or 21 million. Accordingly, he increased his votes by 5.3 million, or 0.8 percent, in four years.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AK Party) got 42.6 percent of the votes in the parliamentary elections, which is 10 percent below his personal votes in the presidential elections. However, the AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance maintained the majority in Parliament by getting 53.7 percent of the votes together. "We got the message that our nation gave to our party at the ballot box," Erdoğan said during his victory speech as he thanked MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli and his followers for their support.
The MHP surprised many by getting 11.1 percent of the votes in the parliamentary elections, doubling what most of the polls predicted. After former MHP deputy Meral Akşener was expelled from the party in 2016 because of her harsh criticism of Bahçeli and founded the new nationalist party, the Good Party (İP), with other former leading MHP figures, it was thought that the MHP would melt down in the elections; however, it has become a key party in Parliament by securing the AK Party-MHP alliance's majority.
On the other hand, Akşener's İP garnered 10 percent in the parliamentary elections; while she, as a presidential candidate, only received 7.3 percent of the votes. The MHP got 11.9 percent of the votes in the parliamentary elections on Nov. 1, 2015. In brief, Turkish nationalists split into two groups and became rivals but doubled up their votes instead of sharing the nationalist votes between each other. According to preliminary analyses, the MHP got some 5-7 percent of the votes of former AK Party supporters who wanted to see Erdoğan as the president but are not satisfied with the party's performance. In that way, the AK Party voters thought that their votes would stay in the alliance but would also show their displeasure. Similarly, around 3 percent of İP voters, which are approximately 1.5 million, didn't vote for Akşener in the presidential elections. Early analyses suggest that they voted for the Republican People's Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce, who came in second with 30.6 percent of the votes.
İnce's performance as a presidential candidate was above his party's rate in the parliamentary elections, which got 22.6 percent of the total votes. In Nov. 1, 2015 parliamentary elections, the CHP got 25.3 percent of the votes, which was around 3 percent above the current results. In addition to İP supporters' votes in the presidential elections, İnce got some 3 percent of the votes of Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) supporters; while the HDP received 11.7 percent in the parliamentary elections, its presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş rounded up 8.4 percent – around 2 percent from the other parties' voters.
İnce, who has been an intraparty opponent of CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, received his record-breaking votes by portraying himself as a man with conservative roots who respects Islamic as well as the national and traditional values of Turkish society. This was an unusual narrative from a figure of the CHP, which is known for its ultra-secular tendencies. In 2014, the CHP supported Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, a conservative nationalist who was formerly the head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as a joint candidate with the MHP to run against Erdoğan. İhsanoğlu lost the election in the first round to Erdoğan but garnered around 38 percent of the votes. That was already a clear sign revealing the codes of Turkish voters, and İnce's performance highlighted it: Being a conservative religious person, or at least respecting Islamic national sentiments, is a must for a presidential candidate in the eyes of the public.
The day after the elections, İnce conceded his defeat to Erdoğan, denying rumors that had spread on social media on election night that he had been threatened and saying that those were "the words of a couple of schizophrenics." His responsible actions were applauded by many in Turkey. On the other hand, Kılıçdaroğlu refused to congratulate Erdoğan and insisted that the "loser" of the elections was the AK Party. Kılıçdaroğlu did not criticize himself or his party. He also said İnce's vote was "below expectations" although İnce got 8 percent more votes than the CHP. According to early assumptions, İnce, who previously challenged Kılıçdaroğlu twice for the party's leadership, will do it again soon, and this time he could be successful if he plays his cards right.
The HDP got 11.7 percent of the parliamentary votes compared to its 10.8 percent in the Nov. 1. 2015 elections. It looks like the HDP increased its votes by 1 percent but in fact, the HDP lost support to the AK Party in the southeastern region, where the party has most of its support. For instance, in Hakkari, the AK Party doubled its parliamentary votes from 12.6 in 2015 to 20 percent in the current elections, while the HDP's votes decreased from 83.7 percent to 70 percent. In Diyarbakir, the HDP's votes decreased from 72.8 percent in 2015 to 65.5 in the current elections. In the end, the HDP got the 11.7 percent with the help of some voters of the CHP as Kılıçdaroğlu had said the HDP should pass the 10 percent threshold to gain seats in Parliament to reduce the number of the AK Party members.
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