Is Turkey blowing with the wind of change?

On 7th June, the 86% of Turkish citizens with the right to vote endorsed democracy across identity boundaries, by decreasing for the first time after almost 13 years, their trust towards the Justice and Development party (AKP)

turkey electionsMr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after having completed three mandates – 2002, 2007, 2011 – as Prime Minister in a single party government, was not in the ballot this time. Therefore, since August 2014, he has performed in the political arena as President of the Republic. As the Constitution asserts, the executive power is shared between the President and the Council of Ministers leaded by the PM. However, the power of the former is limited and his tasks are mostly related to the representation of the Republic and its unity, as well as to the implementation of the Constitution, and the regular and harmonious functioning of the organs of the State (Art. 104). At the eve of the elections, Ergogan’s aim was its party, AKP, to gain the number of seats necessary – 330 – to propose a constitutional amendment. As a result, he would have had the possibility to enhance the presidential features of the governmental system and give to his office more substantial tasks.

But the Turkish electors prevent authoritarianism from increasing.

Not only the AKP did not gain the quota to propose a constitutional amendment, but it also lost the chance to form a single party government. To do so, it would have needed minimum 276 seats. On the contrary, it gained 258, almost 41% of the votes. Although AKP secured the lion’s share of the assembly, the percentage was 9% lower than 2011, and way far from Ergodan’s predictions. After a long single rule period, now the AKP has to leave the space to coalition government. The electorate’s other choice were the second best party, with 132 seats in the electoral ranking, the leftist Republican People’s Party (CHP), and then the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which secured 80 seats.

On top of this, a more surprising outcome was registered. The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) overrode the 10% threshold, and with 13.12% of votes, it gained 80 seats. In previous elections, this party did not exist, as a few Kurdish candidates run independently. This time, they decided to join their forces to gain more legitimacy in the electoral chessboard. The HDP major share of vote found place in Diyarbakir province, in the eastern part of the country, domicile of the majority of the Kurdish population. For decades, this territory has been the scenario of the conflict between the Turkish government and the separatists of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK). Consequently, for long time the Kurds found themselves with no representation and excluded from the political game. The 7th June result instead opened a “new deal” for the Kurds. From a closer point of view, it gathers that HDP attracted a wider public than the only ethnic minority, namely liberals, women, members of the LGBT community, secular leftists disenchanted by the CHP action.  This testifies that the sea-change now involves the entire Republic.

At this point, three scenarios are possible:

1.     Coalition government, either between CHP/MHP/HDP – improbable because of the difference between MHP and HDP in relation to the Kurds –  or AKP/MHP – which would seal the end of the Kurdish peace process.

2.     Minority government, with the necessary support of the other forces in the arena.

3.     New election cycle.

 Notwithstanding the fact that everything has still to be decided and negotiated pursuant to the strategic calculations of the political actors, it is clear that the electors have asked for the end of Ergogan’s dominance over Turkish politics, policy and polity, and for the democratic mechanism of the rule of law, checks and balances and primary guarantees over the respect of individual rights to be safeguarded.

Giulia Formichetti 

Pubblicato il 12 giugno 2015

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