The elections have taken place. The election day, monitored by a huge number of international and national observers and representatives, was calm and leisurely, almost to the point of saddening due to opposition circles pretending that elections could not be transparent and pluralistic in Turkey. The elections took place in a country totally surrounded by open warfare and conflict among its neighbors. The fact that Turkey could have organized vibrant elections with a huge turnout in such a dire international conjuncture can only be explained by the consolidation of the democratic regime under 13 years of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) rule.
The AK Party obtained almost 41 percent of the votes cast and remains the main political party in the country. The total number of votes acquired by the AK Party, a handsome 18,850,000 votes, almost equals the total number of votes received by the two next biggest opposition parties combined. Considering in the previous electoral contest the votes the AK Party won was higher than the totality of the votes received by all the opposition parties represented in Parliament, some would label this last performance unsatisfactory. However, in any democratic country in the world, attaining 41 percent of the vote after 13 years of uninterrupted government would be considered a major achievement.
The main opposition party, despite having stayed in opposition for a number of years, has seen its electoral base shrink. The final results of the votes are not very known yet, but a disaffection of around 4 percent of the votes has been lost by the Republican People's Party (CHP). This has not prevented spokespersons from the CHP heralding their failure as a "success," showing a rare display of opportunism.
The political movement that has really increased its votes has been the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), mainly thanks to a nationalistic wave that has encompassed the Kurds in Turkey. The party took a real risk by deciding to participate as a party (and not through independent candidates) in the elections, risking failure in reaching the 10 percent threshold. This perhaps was a useless risk-taking move, because the large democratic sphere that Kurdish politics currently enjoys is mainly thanks to what has been achieved through the reconciliation process. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wanted to underline this dimension when he talked about the "normalization" of Kurdish politics. But once again his approach was heavily distorted by the usual circles. Turkey has helped the peshmerga cross its soil to help the resistance in Kobani. This has also been largely forgotten. Steadily, the image of an "anti-Kurdish" AK Party has been instilled in the public opinion, especially during the last six months. Regions in the east and southeast of Turkey, who usually support the AK Party, have voted for the HDP in droves this time. Urban populations in western Turkey, having lost hope in a CHP victory, switched their support to the HDP, which obtained a very high number of seats in Parliament, depriving the AK Party of a majority and creating a biased representation.
As a reaction to increasing Kurdish nationalism, Turkish nationalistic votes have gone to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which further compartmented the political arena. We will now have to go through a tedious process of establishing a coalition through negotiations between different political parties. With a presidential system, this turmoil and instability would not have happened. A regime change has not been possible, at least as of yet.
These elections did not deliver a clear winner. A relative increase in the votes for the HDP cannot be seen as a success for the main opposition party. It is also very hard, virtually impossible for the newly elected Parliament to elect a government without the support of the AK Party. No political movement with a modicum of common sense would participate in a coalition government where the AK Party would remain in the opposition. Rationality and statesmanship indicate a government formula where the AK Party would remain in government. Somebody has to remind the CHP spokespersons.