Turkey’s recent election held on June 7 has produced results which have not only changed the balance of power in the country, but which also have interesting implications on the changing character of the Turkish electorate.
The governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) was the sole party in government from 2002 until the latest election, winning a parliamentary majority in three consecutive elections. However, this time around the party could not obtain the 276 deputies which is necessary to form a majority government, as it was short by 18 deputies. This is despite the fact the party received 41 percent of the vote, 15 percent more than its closest rival the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) surpassed Turkey’s 10 percent electoral threshold for the first time with 13 percent of the vote and won 80 seats. On the other hand, the two main opposition parties, the social democratic and secularist CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) took 132 deputies with 25 percent of the vote and 80 seats with 16 percent of the vote respectively.
According to the unofficial results of the election, no political party can form a majority government, which means a coalition or a minority government is inevitable for the parties concerned and the country.
The results were, otherwise, pointing out odd directions of the country also. Let’s check them out case by case.
The main opposition party CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu is originally from the eastern province of Tunceli where his party failed to make any gains in the elections. The HDP won both seats in the province and received 61 percent against the CHP’s 20 percent.
The HDP also did badly in Elazig, the hometown of its leader Selahattin Demirtas which is located in eastern Turkey. The AK Party, which was the target of fierce criticism from Demirtas, won the elections by a large majority in Elazig and received 54 percent of the vote against the HDP’s 15 percent.
An even more surprising element in the Elazig election was the success of Turkey’s nationalist party, which has accused the HDP of dividing the country and supporting terrorists. The MHP received 20 percent of the vote and finished second in the province, winning a seat and doing better than the HDP.
However, MHP leader Devlet Bahceli succeeded in the election in his hometown, Osmaniye, which is located in Turkey’s Mediterranean region and was the only place where his party was able to rank first across Turkey. The MHP received 41 percent of the vote against the AK Party’s 39 percent in the province.
The leader of the AK Party, Ahmet Davutoglu, won big in his hometown Konya where his party received a 65 percent of the vote. Konya, a central Anatolian city, is where the second highest proportion of votes for the AK Party were cast across the country after Rize, a Black Sea province where the former leader of the AK Party President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s family is from. The AK Party won 11 deputies in Konya while it received 67 percent in Rize, where all of the seats exclusively went to the AK Party candidates.
The HDP was the most successful party in the eastern and southeastern regions of Turkey, which are mostly populated by Kurds, and in most provinces in the region it beat the other parties by a landslide.
The party won more than 87 percent of the vote in Hakkari and 85 percent of the vote in Sirnak, which are the highest percentages of the vote it has received in those regions and greater proportions than those won by any other party in any other province throughout Turkey.
Though no other party received more than 67 percent of the vote in any province in Turkey, the HDP received more than 70 percent in several provinces - including Diyarbakir, Van, Mardin, Batman, Mus, and Agri.
It is the first time the HDP has participated in Turkey as a political party, and it was debated before the election whether it could pass the 10 percent threshold.
In Hakkari, the AK Party received less than 10 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, the election result of the eastern Turkish province of Kars favouring the HDP has confused many experts . It appears the previous election results in the province along with the latest result illustrate that the people of Kars have an eccentric voting habit in different election.
Kars has a large population of ethnic Azeris and borders to Armenia. The province was part of the Russian Empire between 1878 and 1918 for 30 years following the Turkish-Russian War of 1877-1878.
The HDP received 44 percent of the vote in the province, however in the local elections of 2014 the province elected a mayor with 28 percent of the vote from the ranks of the MHP which is a Turkish nationalist party.
More interestingly, Erdogan gained more than 42 percent of the vote in Turkey’s presidential elections in Kars in August 2014, against Demirtas who received 32 percent of the vote.
In the June 7 elections in Kars, the MHP received 14 percent of the vote while the AK Party received 26 percent.
The general elections also have some significant implications for the future direction of Turkish politics in terms of small parties.
The Felicity Party (SP), a conservative Turkish party, came in fourth place in most provinces located in the Black Sea and Central Anatolia regions which have conservative constituencies.
The SP was founded in July 2001 by former members of the Virtue Party (FP), which was banned by Turkey’s Constitutional Court in June 2001 on the grounds that it was engaged in anti-secularist activities. The more liberal wing of the FP founded the AK Party whereas the conservative wing established the SP.
Similar to the SP but in reverse, the HDP came fourth in many provinces with more secularist constituencies living in the Aegean, Mediterranean, and Thrace regions of Turkey.
The HDP presents itself as a leftist and secularist party.