Turkey left has the March 31 local elections behind. Nearly 60 million voters elected city and district mayors as well as provincial councils. Similar to previous elections, people showed great interest in the elections as turnout was nearly 85 percent. The exact results will be revealed soon after the top election board settles objections made by political parties in various cities and districts.
If we look at the winners and losers, we notice that the People's Alliance, formed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), received a clear victory in the elections by garnering 51.6 percent of votes. On the other side, the opposition bloc, formed by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), the far-right Good Party (İP) and implicitly supported by the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) remained at 37.5 percent in Sunday's elections.
The İP came first as the losers of the elections, defeated in all 22 provinces they entered with their own candidates. The expected fracture in the party occurred just after the elections as Ümit Özdağ, one of the founding members and deputy chairman, submitted his resignation Tuesday from the party executive board. Another loser of the elections was the HDP, since its votes shrank in almost all of its strongholds and they were defeated by the AK Party in the Kurdish-majority southeastern Şırnak, Bingöl, Ağrı and Bitlis provinces.
Even though the Nation Alliance's candidates are leading in Istanbul and Ankara according to unofficial results, the distribution of votes in provincial councils remained in favor of the People's Alliance, which constitutes another drawback for the Nation Alliance. In other words, the People's Alliance won a clear majority in almost all provincial councils by garnering 6.5 million more votes countrywide against its opponents. This gave a clear signal that the People's Alliance would have a landslide victory in the case of a general election today.
The first statements given by the leaders after Sunday's elections touched upon the fact that Turkey will now see 4.5 years without elections. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan specifically emphasized this point during his address on election night to the exhilarated crowd in front of the AK Party headquarters in Ankara.
He said that during this no-election period, Turkey will take remarkable steps in foreign policy and the economy. The prominent measures in the economy for the government is strengthening the fiscal system with structural reforms against speculative attacks that have lingered on since August. During his speech on election night, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said that the party is ready to fulfill its part in efforts to strengthen the economy. The MHP Chairman, Devlet Bahçeli, also stressed that the People's Alliance will do whatever is necessary to contribute to Turkey's 2023 vision.
These statements attested to the fact that local elections results and arguments on foreign policy and economy should be separately evaluated. Leaders are showing an above-party stance for the country to reach its targets. Erdoğan's statement suggesting that no one, including himself, is "above the cause and nothing has precedence over Turkey," should also be considered in this context.
Turkey's democracy gave a good account for itself in these elections. After the completion of the recounts in Istanbul and Ankara, the country will completely leave behind this process. Considering Erdoğan's speech, which emphasized clearing terrorist organizations in northern Syria's Manbij and east of the Euphrates to provide a convenient environment for Syrian refugees to return home, it is easy to predict that Turkey will enter a more proactive process in both foreign policy and the economy.
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