The Winners and Losers in Turkey’s Parliamentary Election

By Majid Hakki for KURDPA

This past Sunday’s parliamentary election in Turkey was historical in many respects. First and foremost, the election proved that democracy-wise, Turkey has reached a political maturity in such a way that all sides accepted the outcome.

Second, Turkey’s parliamentary election, due to the size of its Kurdish population and geography has crippling effect on all the other parts of Kurdistan within the other states.

Third, the results this time were a resounding outcome against the process of Islamization of the political sphere, and a Turkish society’s strong message to the governing political party AKP and its formidable leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for direct and indirect Turkish state’s support for political Islam, most notably, the Islamic State (infamously known as ISIS).

A swift analysis of the losers and winners of the June 7 parliamentary election will inch us closer to the pressing issues in Turkish politics.

Turkey’s Election had Three Obvious Losers

The President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was the biggest loser of this election. According to Turkey’s constitution, the President must remain neutral and shall not campaign for and support any political party during the election. Erdoğan, in this election, as the AKP’s leader and the staunch advocate of a strong presidential system was campaigning for his party and his ideology using religious rhetoric to garner as many votes as possible for his ruling AKP and his strong presidential bid.

Second were those who thought of imposing their unrestrained rule in all aspects of life within society through strong and centralized presidency, speaking for all sectors and nationalities. This was even a message beyond Turkish borders to Kurdish political forces to draw a line between the realm of politics and political and military self-imposition.

The third was AKP itself. Following a 13 year reign, much owing to its policies, the Justice and Development Party had turned into a Sultan making party with dreams of re-establishing the Empire. With an 18% drop in its votes compared to the 2011 election, the end and demise of AKP started just like many other political parties in Turkish political history, once at the pinnacle of political power.

This Election had Many Winners

The real winners of last Sunday’s election were the people of Turkey with all its national, religious and cultural groups. Turkey proved that a Muslim country can have believers; however, all the viewpoints can fairly compete and participate in the political process. HDP’s victory, as the first pro-Kurdish party,inched Turkey closer to European Union standards and could re-energize the process of joining the EU, which has practically stalled in the last eight years.

Obviously, the biggest winners in this election were HDP and the Kurdish nation. HDP, by adopting a more inclusive policy as its agenda to include national, religious, gender and workers issues was able to garner unexpected support and become Turkey’s fourth largest political force. By entering Parliament, HDP transformed itself from a populist street organization to a formidable political force in the legislature.

The Kurdish question in North Kurdistan has become a ‘Turkish’ question that must be addressed and resolved at the legislative level democratically at all socio-political, economic and cultural levels. It must attain its legal status so the Turkish state can never confront this issue from a security perspective as a fight against ‘terror’. One must also thank the two year cease fire and silencing of guns that entrusted many democratic and liberal Turks to lend their support to HDP and elected it as their representative as well.

The CHP, led by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, was one of the other victors of this election, even though the number of CHP deputies have decreased compared to 2011. On the other hand, CHP as the remnant of the 1982 coup, owes a moral apology to the Kurdish nation; however, nor the state neither Turkish society enjoy the political maturity to offer an apology to the Kurds or other minorities in the country. Nonetheless, CHP had apparently appealed to its candidates to withdraw their candidacy from key districts under its sphere for the benefit of HDP. Henceforth, Kılıçdaroğlu wanted to broaden its base among the Kurdish constituents in future elections. Some Turkish political spectators speculate that HDP owes parts of its victory to CHP. CHP, for its parts did not engage itself in negative campaign, bashing and against the HDP.

Last but not least, another winner of this election was the Turkish ultra-nationalist MHP. The party was able to slide up its percentage point support by 7% this election and become one of the four largest political blocs in Turkish politics. Observers believe that the 7% increase in MHP’s vote share was as a result of disenfranchisement among AKP’s nationalist supporters who are fed up with the policies of the AKP.

Other Turkish political parties such as DYP, once led by then President Süleyman Demirel and Prime Minister Tansu Çiller, who had capitalized on the extremist anti-Kurd policies received less than 1% of the votes. Such a low performance is a lesson for Kurdistani political parties as they need to update their political programme and adopt their policies based on today’s issues and values.

It appears that the AKP is en route to the same destiny as the vanished DYP, and based on the observations of many Turkish political analysts, HDP’s political approach ignited such downfall.
Opinions contained within the article are of the author and not necessarily representative of Kurdpa editorial views.