Will the HDP be able to pass the election threshold?

Published 20.05.2015 22:33
Updated 20.05.2015 22:34
Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairman of the Peoples' Democracy Party (HDP), greets his supporters during an election rally for June 7 parliamentary elections in Istanbul. (AP Photo)
Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairman of the Peoples' Democracy Party (HDP), greets his supporters during an election rally for June 7 parliamentary elections in Istanbul. (AP Photo)

Having received 3.9 million votes before the Kobani incidents in which 52 citizens lost their lives, can Demirtaş's party receive 4.8 million votes now when the positive atmosphere of the reconciliation process has been poisoned?

There are only 16 days left until the elections. There has been no such ambiguity regarding how the parliamentary arithmetic would be shaped in any previous election. It is more or less evident that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) will preserve its power without the need of forming a coalition following the June 7 general elections. How many seats the ruling party obtains in Parliament is a significant question though. After the elections, we might encounter the most powerful ruling party in its history. The ballots might also lead to a weak ruling power. The Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) passing the 10 percent election threshold will determine this. If the HDP exceeds the threshold, the number of seats the AK Party will have might decrease to 280. Otherwise, the number of seats might increase up to 345. So, will the HDP be able to pass the threshold? Surveys do not show a clear picture. Polling companies are also confused. Some estimations regarding the vote rate for the HDP are around 9 percent while others show that its vote rate will be above 10 percent. Let's put aside what surveys suggest and resort to figures to have an idea of the HDP's election threshold challenge. We have already mentioned that the parliamentary arithmetic will be shaped according to the HDP's vote rate on June 7. And the result the HDP will obtain is to be determined by the participation rate of citizens in the elections. So, it is required to calculate the participation rate first.

I checked the participation rates of the last 50 years to have an idea about it. The average participation rate in the 15 general elections over the last 50 years is 80.9 percent. But considering the data from the last 50 years might not help build a realistic picture since Turkey has gone through extraordinary periods over the course of those years. Military coups were staged and doubts were cast on ballots. It is arguable how healthy the participation rate in those periods was reflected. So let's base it on the participation rates of the last five general elections, which shed light on the last 20 years. The average participation rate in the last five general elections is 84.5 percent. Now let's adapt this participation rate to the number of voters. The number of voters in Turkey, including both domestic and abroad, is 56.6 million. If 84.5 percent of 56.6 million voters cast ballots, there will be 47.8 million votes. According to this picture, the HDP must receive about 4.8 million votes to exceed the threshold. Let's bear this in mind. Now I would like to pass on to the second phase and calculate the number of votes for the HDP. The HDP joined the 2011 general elections not as a party, but with independent candidates. Independent candidates received 2.8 million votes in that election. This shows that the number of core proponents of the HDP is about 3 million. But it must be considered that joining elections as a party might bring different results. If a party joins elections with independent candidates, it produces province or region-based strategies rather than strategies encompassing the whole country. According to this analysis, it can be said that 2.8 million is the minimum number the HDP will get.

There is other data suggesting that the votes the HDP will receive might be more than that. The presidential election held on August 10, 2014 in which the HDP presidential candidate and the party's current co-chair, Selahattin Demirtaş, received 3.9 million votes. This is critical data. But it must be analyzed by evaluating the current conditions. Demirtaş received this rate amid the positive atmosphere of the reconciliation process. The reconciliation process and period without conflict prepared suitable ground for the HDP to become a "Turkey party." The HDP used this and took the right steps to increase its supporters. Demirtaş appealed to anti-AK Party voters and gave mild and positive messages both to both western and eastern Turkey. And after the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Republican People's Party (CHP) nominated the low-profile candidate, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, for the presidential election, no barriers remained for Demirtaş to come to the forefront. The increasing votes Demirtaş enjoyed in the presidential election might be the result of the votes he received from the CHP's base. He probably did not appeal to the MHP's base. İhsanoğlu, the joint presidential candidate of the CHP and MHP, received 15.5 million votes while the total number of votes the CHP and MHP got in the 2011 general elections was 16.7 million. It is not certain if the 1.2 million missing votes belong to voters who did not cast ballots or those tending toward Demirtaş. Due to this ambiguity it is impossible to accurately determine the number of votes the HDP will get. But there is a bare truth independent from all these questions. Demirtaş received 3.9 million votes on August 10. Another truth is that if the expected participation rate is realized, the HDP will need 4.8 million votes. In other words, the HDP must receive at least 900,000 extra votes apart from its own base to exceed the 10 percent threshold, which is the best scenario. If Demirtaş really appealed to some of the CHP's base in the presidential election, he has to win again. This means that the extra votes the HDP will need might exceed 1 million. Having received 3.9 million votes before the Kobani incidents in which 52 citizens lost their lives, can Demirtaş's party receive 4.8 million votes now when the positive atmosphere of the reconciliation process has been poisoned? We will see it on the evening of June 7.

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