How Turkey’s Parliamentary Elections Played

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By Taniel Koushakjian (@Taniel_Shant)

AAANews Blog

June 9, 2015

On Sunday,
millions of Turkish citizens at home and abroad voted in parliamentary
elections largely seen as a referendum on Turkey’s Islamist President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP). As originally
reported by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, the AKP received 40.8% of the
vote, a substantial decrease from the 51.76% it received in the presidential
election last year. The secular Republican Peoples Party (CHP) received 25%,
the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) received 16.5%, and for the
first time, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) received 13.1% of
the electorate, breaking the 10% threshold required to enter parliament.

 

In typical
fashion, Erdogan was loose lipped in the run up to the election, calling
journalists, Armenians, and gays “representatives of sedition” on the campaign
trail, only to be outdone by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s vow to hoist an
Islamic flag
over Jerusalem. The bellicose rhetoric drew strong criticism from
the US State Department and seems to have turned off a large number of AKP
supporters who appear to have flocked to the HDP. Although Erdogan himself
wasn’t on the ballot, the vote was a rebuke to the AKP and Erdogan’s ambition
to win a two-thirds majority of seats needed to amend the constitution in order
to transfer more power from the Prime Minister to the President.

There were
some other historic firsts for Turkey; the largest election of women to
parliament
(96 in total), the first Roma and Yezidi members elected, and the
election of four Christians (three Armenians and a Syriac).

Here’s how
the elections played out in the media:

BBC News,Erdogan says no party can rule alone – But
the AKP’s dominance, the one-man political show that has played out in Turkey
for 13 years and polarised this nation, has just taken a very big kick.” … Economist,
Autocracy blocked – The main causes of AK’s setback were a faltering
economy, Mr. Erdogan’s growing authoritarianism, and the stunning success of
the HDP.” … AFP, “Turkey facing turbulence after Erdogan poll blow – Turkey
on Monday entered a new period of political and financial turbulence after
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party lost its absolute majority in
parliament for the first time since coming to power in 2002.“ … Bloomberg
Business
, ”Lira Falls to Record Amid Stock Rout as AK Party Loses
Majority
 – Turkey’s
lira weakened to an all-time low and stocks plunged after voters denied the
ruling AK Party a majority government for the first time since 2002.“ … New
York Times
, ”Erdogan’s Governing Party in Turkey Loses
Parliamentary Majority
– Turkish voters delivered a rebuke on Sunday to
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his party lost its majority in Parliament in
a historic election that thwarted his ambition to rewrite Turkey’s Constitution
and further bolster his clout.“ … Wall Street Journal, ”Turkish
Election Sinks Erdogan’s Bid to Cement Power
– competing for airtime with
opposition leaders and his own prime minister, Mr. Erdogan repeatedly attacked
the Western press and issued warnings that a foreign-led conspiracy was seeking
to halt Turkey’s re-emergence as a great power, a century after the collapse of
the Ottoman Empire.“ … Los Angeles Times, “Emperor sans
clothes: Turkish election strips Erdogan of former glory
– Wearied by years of
harsh crackdowns and grandiose gestures on Erdogan’s part, many Turks came to
view him as a leader who burned bridges rather than building them.” … Reuters,
Plunged into uncertainty, Turkey could face early election – Some voters
may have been disillusioned by Erdogan’s increasingly bellicose tone, others
wary of his plans to amass further power or alarmed by recent graft scandals
around the government that Erdogan ascribed to attempts to topple him and which
he cited in launching a purge of the judiciary.” … TIME, “Turkish
Voters Have Punished the Ruling Party for Bullying Minorities
– The Justice and
Development Party failed to get a majority because it alienated people with its
attacks on LGBT people, Kurds and Communists.” … Washington Post,
Turkey’s election is a blow to Erdogan and a victory for Kurds – The [pro-Kurdish
HDP] party framed itself as a leftist movement for all Turks and boasted a
diverse slate of parliamentary candidates, including representatives of
virtually all of Turkey’s major ethnic groups, a large number of women and the
nation’s first openly gay candidate.”

About Armenian Assembly of America

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

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