The Nov. 1 elections brought about major results, with the HDP losing 2.3 percent of the vote it received on June 7, the MHP experiencing a dramatic fall of half its deputies and the CHP making no progress. Nearly half of the electorate wanted the AK Party to continue its progress by acting in a very prudent manner
Turkey, which had been experiencing major stalemates in many respects for the past five months, revealed a very interesting picture in Sunday's parliamentary elections. In the June 7 elections, the vote share of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) dropped below 41 percent and no party achieved the votes needed to come to power alone. The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) was the keystone of those elections. For the first time, a party that branched out from the Kurdish political movement decided to enter elections as a party, instead of as independent candidates. With the overt support of the anti-AK Party bloc and the Kurds' desire to open a sphere for identity politics, the HDP passed the 10 percent election threshold, receiving 13 percent of the vote.
Then Prime Minister Davutoğlu initiated negotiations to form a coalition government. However, the PKK took the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham's massacre in Suruç as an opportunity and reinitiated terror. Turkey has seen many soldiers and police officers killed and numerous operations against the PKK over the past five months. Meanwhile, thanks to the 13 percent vote share it achieved, the HDP attempted to declare autonomy in some districts in southeastern Turkey. The PKK wanted to instigate a war by digging trenches in Cizre and certain districts of Şanlıurfa. Instead of withstanding this violence, the HDP pursued a policy that defended it. Had it evaluated the 13 percent vote share correctly, it might be facing a different picture today.
This five-month period was a time of political deadlock and conflict for Turkey. Turkey headed toward a new election in a tough time after political parties failed to reach a consensus to form a coalition government and the PKK reinitiated terror. The election results indicated that the AK Party even outpaced its historic performance in the 2011 elections. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AK Party, which has been in power for 13 years, managed to receive 49.4 percent of the vote under Davutoğlu's leadership this time. So how did votes shift to the AK Party once again in such a short time? Who voted for the party again, and why?
The key aspect of both the June 7 and Nov. 1 elections was the Kurdish voters. Kurds who supported the HDP in the June 7 elections, hoping that it would help a political resolution to the Kurdish question, returned to the AK Party, as the HDP succumbed to violence instead of politics. They acted in a very rational manner and once again opened a sphere for the AK Party to return to negotiations as a part of the reconciliation process. On the other hand, they allowed the HDP to remain in Parliament to make it clean up its act and engage in politics for reconciliation.
As for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), it aroused nationalistic feelings of conservative voters by turning the reconciliation process into an instrument before the June 7 elections. That was why some of the AK Party's vote shifted to the MHP. Despite an increasing vote share, MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli did not take any position to pave the way for politics after June 7. He pushed other parties in Parliament to form a coalition and bring them together with the HDP and created barriers that would make things even more difficult - an attitude that voters rebuked. Figures confirm that a major part of the vote that moved from the AK Party to the MHP on June 7 returned to the AK Party on Nov. 1. In other respects, the 8.7 percent increase in the AK Party's vote share is more than the totality of these two voting groups. Additionally, the base of the Felicity Party (SP), which moves on the path of former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, voted for the AK Party to put it into power in such an atmosphere. As such, it seems 1 percent of the AK Party's vote came from the SP base. It is also known that some AK Party voters did not go to the polls in the June 7 elections for various reasons. It seems the experiences and uncertainties in the five-month period urged this segment to the polls for the Nov. 1 elections and they found it more proper to postpone their warning to the AK Party.
In short, the Nov. 1 elections brought about major results, with the HDP losing 2.3 percent of the vote it received on June 7, the MHP experiencing a dramatic fall of half its deputies and the CHP making no progress. Nearly half of the electorate wanted the AK Party to continue its progress by acting in a very prudent manner. Actually, this indicates how rationally Turkish voters behaved. The polls gave fine and sharp messages to politicians in the face of what has been and what is happening. I wonder whether some highbrows who have recently been possessed with unreasonable emotions felt ashamed in the face of the commonsense of the public, which they humiliate most of the time.
This being the case, it seems Turkey will not hold elections for the next four years and will continue with strong AK Party rule once again. I hope that from now on polarization will decline, the anti-AK Party circles will internalize AK Party rule, the AK Party will re-embrace its liberal and reformist path and Turkey will continue to progress.