Turkey’s AKP party returned to power for the first time since 2002. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won an outright majority with the country's second election in five months.
TRT World: Turkey's Game Changing Election - Road To 2015: Part 2
Defeating military tutelage after ‘Google Case’
In the third term of its rule, AK Party still had not eliminated the interventions from out of policy. On March 14, 2008, a prosecutor filed a closure case which is known as “Google Case” due to the arguments quoted from internet against AK Party on the grounds that the party became “the focus of anti-secular actions”. After an intensive period, the closure request failed to be passed by only one vote from the 11 supreme court judges. Riding out the storm, the government officially launched the Kurdish Solution Process at the beginning of 2009. As the part of inhibiting military interventions on politics, a constitutional referendum was held on September 12, 2010, at the anniversary of military coup in 1982, and resulted with 57 percent “Yes” of the vote. The civilians started to file cases against former military coups and grand cases investigating former military personnel were started. While the country started to prepare for the general election, the parliament allowed making propaganda in Kurdish language with a legal modification in the election law. On June 12, 2011, Turkey reelected the AK Party as the ruler with 49.8 percent of the vote and 327 deputies. The CHP became the main opposition again with 26 percent, while MHP gained 13 percent. The number of independent deputies rose 35 with 6.6 percent of the vote and the majority of them launched a new pro-Kurdish party named Peoples’ Democratic Party - HDP - in 2012.
TRT World: HDP Election Manifesto
FIRST ELECTION AS A POLITICAL PARTY
Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party’s electoral program announced includes 12 sections, with specific pledges to particular groups including women, youth, LGBT communities and workers. The HDP also made promises in several areas, including the economy, foreign policy, and the environment. Participating in the elections as a political party for the first time, the HDP adopted the slogan; “We the HDP, We to the parliament.” The HDP had previously run its candidates as independents in order to be elected since Turkey’s 10 percent electoral threshold is not applied to independents. The HDP is claimed to strongly oppose the execution of presidential system introduced by the AK Party as a way to retaliate against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The party also promises to abolish Turkey’s 10 percent electoral threshold and supports the notion of democratic autonomy.
ROLE IN THE PEACE PROCESS
The HDP is one of the parties to the peace process aiming to resolve 30 years of armed conflict with the outlawed PKK. The peace process with Abdullah Ocalan who is the imprisoned leader of the PKK, was started at the beginning of 2013, by the initiatives of AK Party government. Along the way, the process experienced ups and downs as the deputies of the HDP often visited Ocalan to run the negotiations between the sides. The party uses this position to threaten the government if they lose in the June 7 elections. The deputy chairman of the party, Pervin Buldan recently warned of political turmoil saying “Our failure to reach the 10 percent of vote will mean a new crisis.” In October 2014, call of the HDP for a rally in support of the Kurdish city of Kobane in Syria against ISIS advance had sparked violent protests in the southeastern Turkey. More than 40 people were killed brutally and many were injured in the demonstrations throughout Turkey.
TRT World: MHP Election Manifesto
"NO NEGOTIATION BUT COMBAT"
Known for its strong opposition to the peace process due to negotiations with the outlawed PKK to end years-long armed conflict, Turkey’s nationalist political party, Nationalist Movement Party, pledges “no talks with PKK” in its election manifesto. Harshly criticising President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AK Party government for having engaged in talks in efforts to successfully finalise the process, the chairman of MHP, Devlet Bahceli, vows “to not negotiate, but combat terror.” Explaining his position about "combatting terrorism”, Bahceli said the party would prepare a new constitution to end separatism and terrorism also strengthen the brotherhood and national unity in Turkey.
PROMISES REGARDING ECONOMY
Adopting the slogan “Walk With Us Turkey,” the other focus of the party’s election manifesto is the economy. The MHP promises to improve the situation of Turkey’s economically disadvantaged by lifting taxes on diesel and fertiliser, creating 700,000 jobs, bringing the national income per person to $13.3K, and increasing exports to $238 billion, while keeping annual growth at 5.2 percent between 2016 and 2019, which Bahceli calls the “first governance period.” The MHP also promises to raise the net minimum wage to $518. and in addition to this, pledges that minimum wage earners who live in big cities will be paid an $37 as a transportation subsidy. Additionally, those who do not have a house will receive an additional $92 per month in rental aid. This will allow a minimum wage earner living in a big city to earn as much as $646 as the party suggests.
TRT World: AK Party Election Manifesto
MANIFEST FOR NEW TURKEY
Described as conservative democratic party, the governing Justice and Development Party promises ‘New Turkey’ as manifest in its election campaign consisting 100 articles and pledges to conclude them by 2023 on the centennial of Turkish Republic. The AK Party has been given consent by majority voters to govern the country for the past 12 years and undertook many critical democratic reforms both economically and socially that changed country’s fate. Despite enduring a rocky process due to interventions to stop the party and its founding leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he was elected as president with 52 percent of votes in 2014. Under the leadership of its new chair, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, main goal of the AK Party is to fight against influence of any non-governmental forces from politics, giving power only to people while providing the political, social and economic conditions necessary in order to ensure a prosperous living for all the country’s citizens.
NEW CONSTITUTION AND PEACE PROCESS
AK Party sets the writing of a new constitution and Kurdish-Turkish peace process as its primary objectives in the next term. Current constitution is a product of 1980 military coup and lacks civilian principles while conflict with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party in over three decades claimed lives of 40,000 people and caused major economic damage. National development projects on the other hand, have been the key areas that has been addressed by the AK Party and still remain to be so. Structural transformation in economy, further transparency, generation of employment for dynamic young population, resolving problems of contract workers, new arrangement for retired citizens are among the promises of Davutoglu in addition to spreading urban renewal projects nationwide while continuing to provide a stable political and economic atmosphere.
TRT World: Turkey's Game Changing Election
Turkey’s Electoral Threshold
Turkey’s upcoming June 7th election is widely perceived as the most interesting one in the past 13 years since the incumbent AK Party first came to power. The possible entrance of the pro-Kurdish HDP to the Turkish parliament is expected to have a major impact not only in politics, but also the Turkey’s future. The dynamics of the parliament are bound to a change if the HDP exceeds Turkey’s ten percent electoral threshold. This would make the HDP a key player and allow the party to influence decision making. The possibility of the HDP entering parliament would open a new chapter in Turkey’s political scene, albeit an uncertain and complicated one. The AK Party could still form a majority government since it is thought that the party has guaranteed enough votes to gain more than 276 seats in the parliament even if HDP exceeds the threshold. However, AK Party aims to get at least 330 seats to enact the legislation needed to bring about the presidential system it wants for Turkey. If the HDP passes the threshold while other parties continue to oppose the changes, the HDP’s stance on the issue will be decisive. If the HDP fails to enter the parliament, then the number of seats controlled by the AK Party could reach as much as 350.
Coalition Against AK Party
The possibility of HDP overcoming the electoral threshold has also raised hopes for Turkey’s mainly idle opposition parties already in the parliament as each vote for HDP counts as one more step to distance AK Party from implementing the presidential system. The three main opposition parties with different backgrounds generally have contradictory political stances and it is very rare that they agree on a certain issue. In a recent case, HDP rally in northern province of Samsun was almost hijacked by supporters of nationalist party. However, these parties appear to have decided to unite in opposition to block the ruling AK Party from carrying out its desired change to the presidential system. But, the electorate does not favour coalition governments as they have led to severe instability in Turkey in the past.
Rivalry Down to AK Party-HDP
As the key factor of the election is whether the HDP will overcome the threshold or not, the main battle for votes is expected to take place in the eastern and southeastern parts of the county between the governing AK Party and HDP. The amount of votes for the HDP in the east would likely not be enough to pass the threshold but the HDP has also campaigned in the western provinces and major cities of Turkey to attract more integrated Kurds and secular voters. In addition to that, Turkey has witnessed some pro opposition columnists openly call the supporters of the CHP, to vote for HDP and help the party to pass the threshold, just to weaken the governing AK Party. The increased number of Kurds living in western part of Turkey increases the HDP’s chances of exceeding the electoral threshold. The eastern provinces of Diyarbakir, Mardin, Batman, Sirnak, Hakkari and Van are where HDP collects the majority of its votes, but the party also aims to increase votes in other eastern provinces where Kurds are less affiliated with it and mostly favour conservative parties including the AK Party.
TRT World: Turkey's Game Changing Election - Road To 2015: Part 1
In 2002, the economic burden of the devastating earthquakes of 1999 weighing heavily on Turkey. A political crisis between then President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and the governing three party coalition led by the Democratic Leftist Party triggered the worst economic crisis of Turkish history.
A coalition of three parties including a social democrat party, center-right right party and nationalist party was shaking. The representation of Turkey’s religious population was prevented in 1999 with the closure of the conservative Virtue Party by Turkey’s supreme court on the pretext of “guarding secularism.” The decisions came after Merve Kavakci, who was wearing the headscarf, was dismissed from the parliament with a cry from then prime minister Bulent Ecevit to “Teach this woman her place!”. The incident produced two parties the conservative Justice and development Party, or AK Party, and the more religion-oriented Felicity Party. The mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had previously been jailed and banned from politics because he read a poem established the AK Party even though could not stand as a candidate in parliament. The leader of the MHP, Devlet Bahceli, called for an early general election which changed the political climate of Turkey. On November 3, 2002, the election was held and the AK Party won 34 percent of the vote and gained 365 seats in parliament. The Republican People’s Party, or CHP, assumed the role of chief opposition party after gaining 19 percent of the vote and 177 party deputies along with eight other independent deputies in parliament. The center-right True Path Party, or DYP - could not pass the 10 percent electoral threshold and was pushed out of parliament. A new political era had begun.
‘I will step up onto the tanks if needed!’
A temporary government was formed under the leadership of Abdullah Gul, Erdogan’s closest friend for many years. As one of its first decisions the government passed an amendment in order to remove Erdogan’s ban with the CHP’s surprise support. Meanwhile, Turkey’s Electoral Board voided the election results from the southeastern province of Siirt due to voting irregularities. On February 9, 2003, Erdogan was chosen by the people of Siirt in the second election and stood as Turkish Prime Minister. However, non-political actors were still powerful. Erdogan gave a speech on August 12, 2005, in Diyarbakir which showed the first signs of a new Kurdish Solution Process. The speech was slammed by Turkish ultra nationalists and initiated a societal discussion. On April 16, 2007, applications for presidential candidacy began. Simultaneously, a couple of ultra-secularist mass protests known as the “Republican Marches” were launched. Abdullah Gul was put forward as candidate by the AK Party, which the secularists thought to be an attempt at “capture of the secular state.” Around the same time the Turkish army published a memorandum on April 27 which proclaimed those who “exploit the religion and object to being Turks” as the enemies of the Turkish Republic. The media and public construed the memorandum as a coup signal. Erdogan said to made the memorable statement “I will step up onto the tanks if needed!” The government decided to launch an early election and “turned to the nation to make a judgement”. On July 22, 2007 the AK Party won 46 percent of the vote and 341 seats in the election and remained as Turkey’s governing party. The main opposition CHP gained 20 percent and 112 deputies, while the Turkish nationalist MHP entered parliament with 14 percent and 71 seats. Pro-Kurdish politicians joined parliament without trouble for the first time with the election 26 independent deputies.
TRT World: CHP Election Manifesto
A Liveable Turkey
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People's Party has pledged “A Liveable Turkey” under a four-staged strategy election manifesto.The CHP’s election manifesto focuses on the economy, education, the judiciary and politics. The CHP has lost nine elections - 3 general,3 local, 2 referendum and presidential elections - against the governing Justice and Development Party in the last thirteen years. The CHP favours a coalition government to weaken the power of AK Party, which has won majority of seats in the parliament since 2002. Known as a secular party, CHP ha s attempted to rebrand its position to gain conservative votes with the introduction of a new discourse regarding headscarves. The CHP had backed a controversial ban of the garment in in public spaces such as universities, parliament and courts. The chairman of CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, believes that rebuilding the democracy, the rule of law and individual freedoms on a solid basis is a main precondition for Turkey to achieve economic growth.
“Center Turkey Project” & Constitution
The CHP promises to lower the national election threshold imposed by the current constitution, which was written after a military coup in 1982, to strengthen the existing parliamentary system and limit the powers of the president to counter the AK Party's pledge to switch to a presidential system. CHP introduced “Center Turkey Project,” which is based on establishing a mega city populated by 3 million people and centred in Anatolia. It aims to facilitate trade for regional countries. The party also seeks to increase the minimum wage, provide at least a million additional jobs to the unemployed, and give two additional monthly pensions to the retired. Also among CHP’s economic promises are financial aid for rent and household bills to those with low-income.
TRT World: HDP Leader: Selahattin Demirtas
TRT World: MHP Leader: Devlet Bahceli
TRT World: CHP Leader: Kemal Kilicdaroglu
TRT World: AK Party Leader: Ahmet Davutoglu
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