Tensions rise in Turkey

In the last few years Turkey has had turbulent times. The public dissatisfaction with the government resulted in a surprising outcome in the general elections of June 2015, in which AKP lost the majority. The parties failed to form a coalition, therefore new elections were ordered to be held on the first of November.

Turkish_general_election,_2015_-_Republican_People's_Party_(Turkey).jpgThe elections of June 2015 were almost a sure victory for Reccep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey and member of the AK Party (Justice and Development Party). Almost all opinion polls suggested that his party would win by not less than half of the votes in the general elections. He had also already made plans: if he would win the majority of the votes, he would call for a presidential system of government, which would allow him to be head of government and state, as well as leader of the executive branch that would be separated from the legislative branch. According to Article 175 of the constitution he could do that with a three-fifth majority.

Well, that is not actually how it turned out. In fact, Erdoğan’s AKP won only 40.87% of the votes. A big disappointment: this is the first time since 2002 that the AK Party lost the majority. Prime minister and AKP leader Ahmet Davutoğlu had 45 days to form a government. Since AKP lost the majority, a coalition had to be formed, which was not achieved and resulted in a hung parliament. No party wanted to form a coalition with AKP, and from the beginning Erdoğan opted for early elections rather than seriously trying to form a coalition. His aim was to win the majority in the elections on the first of November to finally continue with his plans to form a one-party government.

But what went wrong for Erdoğan in the elections? Honestly, nobody in Turkey will struggle to explain this phenomenon.

The constant turbulences over the last years increased public dissatisfaction with Erdoğan’s policy. The breaking point was most certainly reached with the Gezi Park protest in 2013. The peaceful demonstrations to protect Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park from being destroyed for another shopping mall resulted in riots in which the police attacked civilians with tear gas and water guns. This caused public revolt all over the country. Two further major topics, which were outraging the population, were the question of a solution process with Kurdish separatists in the aftermath of bomb attacks in both Ankara and Suruç, as well as the murder of a young student, Özgecan Aslan, which raised the serious belief that something had to change in the way women and minorities are treated.

The elections in June were like the answer of the public to all of these issues, which were stubbornly ignored by Erdoğan. By winning 13.12% of the votes the pro-Kurdish party HDP (People’s Democratic Party) passed the 10% mark and made its way into parliament. Leader Selahattin Demirtaş achieved to convince a crucial part of the population of his politics. The fairly new party does not only support women and minorities like Alevi and Kurdish people, but is also the first party to openly support LGBT. Is this a sign of a more democratic Turkey? That’s at least what I hope for.

The other two major parties, that won seats in parliament, are the secular CHP (Republican People’s Party) with 24.95% of the votes and the ultra-nationalist party MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) with 16.29%.

Today we will see how the results will differ from last time, although I doubt that there will be a huge difference. But maybe we will all be surprised to see that this time a government can be formed, so the people of Turkey can feel that their votes and opinions actually count. Maybe this time forming a coalition is rather regarded to be a chance than a defeat. Maybe this time Turkey really moves towards being a country based on democracy.

Let’s hope for it on this Sunday.


Seda Ince

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