Friday

24th May 2019

Erdogan party clinches majority in Turkey

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political gamble by calling a snap election has paid off as elections results on Sunday (1 November) gave his Justice and Development Party (AKP) a large enough majority to form a government alone.

With 96 percent of the votes counted, results showed the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) suffering heavy losses compared to the June election, with 12 percent of the vote, and pro-Kurdish People's Republican Party (HDP) barely making it into the assembly with just over 10 percent of the vote. The largest opposition party remains the Republican People's Party (CHP) with 25 percent.

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  • Erdogan's AKP party secured a majority in Sunday's election (Photo: Wikipedia/Ekim Caglar)

With almost 47 percent of the vote, the conservative-religious long-serving AKP is set to secure a majority in the 550-member parliament.

Opinion polls earlier predicted a replay of the June election when the AKP won just 40 percent of the vote.

Turnout was around 86 percent, an increase since June.

On Sunday night, hundreds of supporters gathered outside AKP’s offices in Ankara to celebrate the victory.

Election day passed uneventfully, but after results started to trickle in, clashes broke out in the Kurdish town of Diyarbakir.

Police fired tear gas and used water cannons as young people angered by the election results erected barricades and threw stones in front of HDP offices.

The gamble paid off

In a political gamble of all or nothing, Erdogan called for a snap poll after general elections in June stripped AKP of its parliamentary majority and short-lived coalition talks failed.

The June results, especially the surprise success of HDP that crossed the 10 percent threshold to enter parliament, curbed Erdogan's ambitions to turn his presidency into a powerful US-style executive.

If HDP does not make it to the parliament after all, Turkey’s strongman will have a big enough majority to push through controversial constitutional reform.

Security was the biggest issue on the 54 million voters’ minds in the deeply polarised country that faces Islamic and Kurdish violence, something Erdogan used to rally his supporters under the banner of stability.

Since the June election, violence has flared up between government forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels, shattering a 2013 truce deal.

The Ankara government joined the US-led coalition against the Islamic State in neighboring Syria, and has started a campaign against the PKK, deemed a terrorist organisation by both Turkey and the EU.

This month saw the deadliest terrorist attack in Turkey's history against a pro-Kurdish rally, when two suicide bombers killed 130 people. Authorities blamed Islamists, but no organisation has claimed responsibility yet.

There are also mounting concerns about a weakening economy and the state of democracy.

Turkey’s once booming economy has slowed, with the Turkish lira plummeting more than 25 percent to new lows in recent months.

Before the elections, high-profile raids against media deemed hostile to Erdogan and the jailing of critical journalists have set off alarm bells over the EU candidate country’s democratic record, as well as the extent of Erdogan’s grip on power.

Europe's partner

The European Commission has delayed the publication of an enlargement report assessing the country’s progress towards membership, as EU countries tried to court Turkey to help stem the flow of migrants and refugees into the continent.

The EU has been trying to get Turkey to stop people crossing over to Greece by improving conditions for people in refugee camps.

Erdogan’s bargaining position for more EU funds, a faster visa liberalisation process, and more political leeway was strengthened by Sunday’s results.

Turkey raises price on EU refugee deal

Turkey seeking €3 billion a year in EU aid and visa-free travel, as institutions court Ankara on refugees, including by delay of critical report, now leaked, until after elections.

When the EU shuts up, Erdogan moves in

Almost a week after Merkel’s visit to Istanbul, Turkish police seized one of the country's largest media groups on the eve of elections.

Opinion

EU must press Turkey on press freedom

The migrant crisis is an opportunity for the EU and Turkey to put relations on a new footing. The EU should start by defending journalists from draconian laws.

Analysis

Erdogan gambles and wins

Nobody in Turkey expected the ruling Justice and Development Party to win that big in Sunday's elections.

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