Monday, June 08, 2015
Turkish Delight - Erdoğan's AKP Party Loses Majority
Turkey's Islamist ruler Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received a rebuke from the weekend's parliamentary elections, which saw his AKP Party lose it's iron clad hold on Turkey's Parliament for the first time in years.
While the AKP still has the most seats, it will now have to form a coalition with far more moderate factions in order to govern. And Erdoğan's plan to turn the largely ceremonial office of president he now holds into a sort of neo-Ottoman caliphate are dead and gone, at least for now.
The AKP won 41 percent of the vote, according to TRT, a state-run broadcaster, down from nearly 50 percent during the last national election in 2011.That gave them 258 seats, far short of a simple majority or the 330 seats they needed to shove through more 'constitutional reforms.'
In second place was the Republican People's Party (CHP), the chief secular opposition. They increased their share of the vote to 25.16%, and 132 seats.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)is something of a right wing populist party. They won 16.5% and 80 seats. They are generally speaking, not fans of Erdoğan.
The real surprise in the election was the performance of the People’s Democratic Party (HDH). This is a largely Kurdish party which aligned itself with women, gays and secular Turks to win almost 13% of the vote, and 80 seats.
The map below is fairly revealing:
Majorities according to provinces: AKP CHP MHP HDP
The AKP, as always commands a majority in rural Anatolia, the CHP commanded majorities in 'European Turkey', the large. mostly secular cities and the mostly Kurdish HDH won out in Eastern Turkey.
First and foremost, this was a referendum on Erdoğan's plan to vastly increase the powers of the presidency. Having seen Erdoğan already pervert Turkey's courts and its military for his own design, most Turks were wary of giving him any more power. The financial scandals surrounding Erdoğan and the continuing decline in the Turkish economy, both of which I mentioned on these pages previously also took a toll.
What happens next will be interesting.The current leader of the AKP is none other than Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who has always been Erdoğan's stooge. Since the AKP is still the largest party in Parliament, Davutoğlu would normally go to Erdoğan, the president and ask for permission to negotiate a coalitions government with one of the other parties.
Ah, but there are problems with that. The CHP and HDH would demand assurances that Erdoğan drop his plans to create an autocratic president's office. They would also insist on re-opening the dropped corruption cases against the four AKP ex-ministers, cases that implicate Erdoğan and his son. The AKP was able to quash those cases when they had their former majority but they don't any more, and a coalition including either of these players would force the issue.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is another possibility, and their party's leader, Devlet Bahçeli, hasn't closed the doors to a deal but made their conditions to join a coalition with AKP clear. They too want Erdoğan to drop his aspirations for a powerful president's office. And they also want an end to the government's overtures towards Turkey's Kurdish minority for a peaceful settlement of grievances.
There are also doubts whether the MHP would go along with the continued whitewash of the corruption cases.
Which leads us to a third interesting possibility.
According to Turkish law, Davutoğlu has 45 days to form a government. If he can't the country goes to new elections.
There's always the possibility that Erdoğan will have Davutoğlu go through the motions of forming a coalition for a couple of months while Erdoğan pulls wires, calls in favors and arranges things so that when Turkey goes to new elections, the end result is very different from what happened this weekend.