With less than a day till the 2018 presidential and general elections in Turkey, here's a look at the political parties running, and their political inclinations.
The AK Party (Justice and Development Party) is a conservative, centre-right party that identifies itself as a “conservative democratic” party.
The party was established in 2001 by incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after its predecessor, the Virtue Party, was shut down in 2001.
The Virtue Party was banned by the judiciary on charges of acting against some articles of the constitution, which imply secularism.
Unlike the Virtue Party, the AK Party garnered support not only from conservatives, but also from liberals, anti-militarists and right-wingers.
During its tenure, the AK Party's areas of focus have been economic development, neoliberal economic policies, the peace process, preventing the military's influence on domestic politics, trials of the 1980 coup plotters, civil-military relations. Another key area of discussion was over the form of secularism in the country, particularly after the 1997 "post-modern coup."
PKK is a designated terror organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU. It has been fighting the Turkish state for more than 30 years and left more than 40,000 dead, including civilians.
The party embraced a conservative democratic stance and a more liberal discourse after it was came to power in 2002. Reform packages were passed in the parliament in a bid to start the EU accession process. On April 27, 2007, the Turkish military released a memorandum on its official website against the AK Party's presidential candidate, whose wife was a hijabi, saying it was defending the Republican tenet of secularism. It was branded as "e-memorandum" by critics.
After the AK Party could nominate its presidential candidate in 2007 despite military opposition, with the help of popular support, and military influence in the country began to decrease. The AK Party could both pursue a more religiously conservative discourse and continue its conservative democratic stance. Also in 2009, the initial steps of the peace process, which the military opposed, began, while the government continued military operations and arrests of people accused of membership in the PKK/KCK. The year 2012 saw the deadliest conflict between the security forces and the PKK since the 1990s.
The party shifted to a more nationalist-conservative discourse after 2013. It pursued limitations to abortion in their agenda, drawing criticism from the opposition. The Gezi Park protests in 2013 became the biggest demonstrations against the AK Party government.
The AK Party couldn't secure enough seats in the parliament to form a one-party government in the June 2015 elections. Five months after the PKK broke the ceasefire in July and Turkey launched the operation against Daesh in Syria, the AK Party received 49.5 percent of the vote during the November 2015 election.
They led the referendum campaign to change the constitution to a presidential system from a parliamentary system in 2017. The system, which gives more power and responsibilities to the president, was accepted by approximately 52 percent of the votes.
The party formed an electoral alliance called the People's Alliance with MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) and BBP (Great Unity Party), with Erdogan as the joint presidential candidate for the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections in 2018.
CHP (The Republican People’s Party)
The Republican People’s Party is the oldest party in Turkey formed in 1923, the year the Republic of Turkey was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The party's founders were mostly former soldiers who fought in the country's War of Independence between 1919 and 1922. That's why the party was seen as an affiliate of the military until the 2000s.
The CHP was the sole political party in Turkey until 1946 and dominated all assemblies with its top-down approach to politics and legislation until 1950, when Turkey moved towards multi-party politics.
There were two attempts to establish a new political party in late1920s, but they were both banned.
The CHP is a social democratic party founded on six main principles: Republicanism, Nationalism, Populism, Statism, Secularism and Revolutionism.
The secularism it adopted was close to the Soviet type of secularism, for instance, hijabs and beards were banned in public institutions.
The ban, which was also adopted during military rule after the 1980 coup, was eventually overturned in the 2000s by the AK Party government with the support of the CHP.
The CHP’s presidential candidate, Muharrem Ince, has stated he will respect individual and religious freedoms if elected.
The party provided its own model for the peace process by highlighting the necessity of problem solving and also criticised the AK Party’s proposals.
The CHP says, “The issue won’t be solved with security methods. In order to solve the Kurdish issue, military methods should be removed from the agenda.”
The party got 25.32 percent of the votes in the 2015 November election.
The CHP formed the Nation's Alliance for the upcoming parliamentary elections with Iyi (Good) Party, Saadet (Felicity) Party and Demokrat (Democrat) Party.
MHP (Nationalist Movement Party)
The MHP, or Nationalist Movement Party is the third largest party in Turkey that falls on the right of the political spectrum. It is a party based on Turkish nationalism, and its definition of nationalism takes both cultural and ethnic forms.
It is the second-oldest party running in the 2018 elections, Formed in 1969 during the Cold War, its ideology was shaped by the right-left clashes taking place in Turkey at the time. Thus, its roots are in tenets like ultra-nationalism, anti-communism, militancy and a strong state.
Its founder, Alparslan Turkes, was one of the military officers who spearheaded the 1960 coup.
Today, the MHP is not characterised by its former aggressive nationalism any more. The party has a stance of ulkuculuk, a form of nationalism has the connotation of serving one’s state.
Its current leader, Devlet Bahceli employs a rhetoric of putting the state first rather than party policies. Its constituencies include both secular and conservative nationalists in Turkey.
It received 11.9 percent of the votes in the last election in 2015.
Iyi (Good) Party
The Iyi (Good) Party is an opposition party that was established in 2017 by Meral Aksener. It is an offshoot of the MHP that was formed when a group of MPs split from the party due to Bahceli’s cooperation with the AK Party.
Much like its parent party, it has a nationalist stance, which prompted some to doubt its ability to appeal to Kurdish voters.
Aksener says the country’s economic development should start from rural areas and spread into urban areas.
Turkey is the world’s seventh largest agricultural producer, and the agricultural sector accounts for 25 percent of its workforce and 8 percent of its economic activity.
The party says the global free market economy leads to unequal wealth distribution. As such, it will take measures to counter this tendency while respecting international free-trade norms.
Aksener is the party's presidential candidate for the 2018 election.
HDP (People’s Democratic Party)
The HDP has a strong base in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority areas. It is the successor to the left-wing BDP (Peace and Democracy Party).
The party supports social democrat values combined with a left-wing approach. Its voter base consists primarily of Kurds, with some leftists, liberals and feminists, as the party includes gender equality high on its agenda and has a female co-chair.
The party has close ties with the US and also many European countries based on its stance on minority rights; and also with Russia based on its left-wing approach.
The BDP's successors, most of which were banned from politics on charges of following a separatist agenda and having links with the PKK, had received only around 6 percent of the vote.
The BDP, employed a liberal approach when it was first formed in 2008, including slogans that promoted gender equality, LGBT, as well as rights for Kurdish populations and minorities. After 2014, it was rebranded as the HDP, and included a number of candidates from other ethnic groups in addition to Turks and Kurds. The HDP was a crucial party during the talks with state officials and received more than 10 percent of the votes in both elections in 2015, passing the threshold for the first time in their history. Following the Kobani events at the Turkish-Syrian border in late 2014 and later after the peace process ended, its focus mainly centred on the Kurdish population.
The party supports autonomy in regions where large Kurdish populations live. It says its goal was to "find a democratic solution to the Kurdish problem in Turkey through peaceful means in order to secure the fundamental rights of the Kurds."
Some members of the HDP are charged for and some others accused of having links to the PKK. Its former co-leader Selahattin Demirtas was arrested in November 2016 over "terrorist propaganda," with some other HDP MPs.
The HDP's presidential candidate for the June elections is Demirtas.
It received 10.76 percent of the votes in the 2015 election.
BBP (Great Unity Party)
The BBP was founded in 1993 by Muhsin Yazicioglu, who was killed in a helicopter crash under mysterious circumstances in 2009.
The members of the right-wing and nationalist party were separated from the MHP, and founded the BBP to stand for a more religiously conservative approach.
The party received around 0.53 percent of the vote in 2015 and has no seats in parliament.
The party aims for a state administration that depends on conservatism, nationalism and national culture with the preservation of major nationalistic values of Turkey through democratic means.
Its foreign policy aims to establish economic, social and cultural associations with the Muslim world and Turkic states. The party has been headed by Mustafa Destici since 2011.
Saadet (Felicity) Party
The Felicity Party is the second party formed out of the Virtue Party's shutdown in 2001, but maintained the more conservative approach of its predecessor compared to the AK Party. When the AK Party founders were separated to form a reformist political party, the Saadet Party called itself "traditionalist."
Its voter base consists of mainly conservative Muslims.
It is currently headed by Temel Karamollaoglu who is running in the presidential election.
It received around 0.68 percent of the votes in the last election.
Demokrat (Democrat) Party
The party was founded in 1946 after a split within the CHP and won in Turkey’s first multi-party elections in 1950 under the leadership of Adnan Menderes.
The party has a centre-right and liberal approach. During its first years, it pursued policies along democratic and liberal lines. Later, it took a more conservative line, drawing harsh criticism from the opposition.
Menderes was arrested during the 1960 military coup and was hanged in 1961, along with two of his government's ministers. The party was banned from politics and closed.
All the powerful right-wing parties who had popular support after 1960 coup claimed they were successors of the DP.
It re-emerged in the mid-2000s after two small right-wing parties merged and received 0.14 percent of votes in the last election.
Vatan (Patriotic) Party
Between the 1970s and 1990s, it was called the Workers' Party and had Maoist and socialist leanings. In the 2000s, the party shifted towards an ultra-nationalist stance, which culminated in its rebranding to Patriotic Party in 2015.
Its nationalism does not have a conservative stance, rather the party describes itself as leftist and secularist.
Its foreign policy approach centres on a Eurasian ideology, and thus seeks increased cooperation with those countries. It's anti-American and also opposes EU membership.
The party opposes the peace process due to its ultra-nationalist stance, and it has its own inward-looking and left-wing approach to domestic politics and international relations.
It received 0.25 percent of the vote in the 2015 elections, and its leader Dogu Perincek is the party's presidential candidate in the upcoming June elections.
Perincek had very close links to high-level officials in the former Soviet Union.
HUDA-PAR (Free Cause) Party
HUDA-PAR is a far-right, conservative party with a primarily Kurdish voter base.
The party prioritises religious identity over ethnicity, despite most of its supporters being Kurds, who are critical of the HDP. It has taken various stances regarding the demand for autonomy. The party hasn't declared any support for the decentralisation agenda of the HDP, while it supported the KRG's independence referendum in Iraq.
The party says the PKK exploits Kurdish identity to form a base for communism in Kurdish majority areas, and they promised to abide by the will of Turkey’s Kurdish citizens.
HUDA-PAR says it will support Erdogan in the 2018 presidential election.
Their candidates ran independently in the 2015 general elections.