The AKP has a Majority in the Recent Elections
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) held snap elections this Sunday after the different parties could not come to an agreement on the formation of the government following the elections in June. According to recent reports, the AKP was able to gain back the majority power, something that they did not have following the June elections. According to reports, “With almost all ballots counted, state-run Anadolu Agency said AKP had won 49.4% of the vote, with the main opposition CHP on 25.4%.”
However, the HDP, which is a pro-Kurdish party (that also has significant backing by many on the left) won over 10 percent of the vote, which allows them to have a share in the government (Turkey has a high 10 percent threshold for electoral representation). Overall, the AKP won 316 votes, the Republican Party won 134 seats, the HDP 59 seats, and the Nationalist Movement Party won 41 seats.
These results are important with regards to the context of Turkish politics. Namely, “
“With almost all of the results counted, the AKP had won substantially more than the 276 seats needed to get a majority, allowing it to form a government on its own.
However, it fell 14 seats short of the amount needed to call a referendum on changing the constitution and increasing the powers of the president, AKP founder Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
And with 60 more seats, the government would have been able to bring in those changes without a referendum.”
Opposition parties criticized the election. For example, as noted in an Al Jazeera report, “The co-leader of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said the election outcome was the result of a deliberate policy of polarization by President Erdogan. Figen Yuksekdag told a news conference in Ankara that the HDP would analyze a drop in its support since the June election, but said the fact that the party had crossed the 10 percent threshold needed to enter parliament was nonetheless a success.”
This is a sad development in Turkish politics, particularly given the increase authoritarianism of Erdogan and the AKP. For years, authorities have arrested individuals criticizing Erdogan. In 2013, they used violence against protesters at Gezi Park and Taksim Square. In 2015, they shut down an LGBTI Pride March on Istiklal Street using tear gas and rubber bullets. Moreover, the government has went after Hizmet and other Fethullah Gulen supporters. Moreover, just recently, authorities took over opposition media outlets.
It will be interesting to see how much further control of the country Erdogan wants, given the fact that “The June result had wrecked Erdogan’s ambition to expand his role into a powerful U.S.-style executive presidency that opponents fear would mean fewer checks and balances in what was once regarded as a model Muslim democracy” (Al Jazeera, 2015). Again, given the recent history of Erdogan and the AKP’s activities in the country , this recent electoral result does not bode well for human rights and freedom of the press in Turkey. Let us hope that the AKP will actually seriously consider reform, as well as inclusion of other political parties in the governing of Turkey.