Turkey in Turmoil: 2015 Re-election Explained

Deniz Uzgun, October 2015

After months of political deadlock in which the 13 year ruling AK Party lost its parliamentary majority, Turkey is set for a re-election in November amidst internal divisions and political conflict like never before.

In witnessing the bloodiest attack in the history of modern Turkey - where the lives of more than 100 pro-Kurdish demonstrators were claimed in twin blasts, for Turks to unite in solidarity and consensus would've been an expected and normal reaction under such circumstances. However, in a nation politically polarised with irreconcilable ideological differences, all hopes of cohesion and peace seem far-fetched, for now.

The rally held earlier this month in Ankara, was predominantly attended by minority groups such as the Kurds and Alevites’ as well as civil society organisations from a range of leftist parties. As the two bombs detonated in the city centre, those defending and hoping to plant the seeds of democracy and peace, were left murdered by those contempt of such ideals.

The Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutloglu, blamed ISIS as the prime suspect for the attacks and labelled the extremist group as the “number one priority” of the ongoing investigations.

But the deadly bombings were not the first of the rise in tension and conflicts, since the June elections held earlier this year.

Ever since the ruling AK part lost its parliamentary majority, conflict has embroiled the nation as harmony between the Turkish security forces and the Kurdish PKK group ceased to exist.

Despite a peace process beginning in 2013, violence escalated on July 20 when a suicide bomber carried out an attack killing 32 people in the Kurdish dominated town of Suruc, near Syria’s border. ISIS was again blamed for the attacks, however, Kurds in the region developed resentment towards the government with some holding extreme views of Turkish officials colluding with ISIS and facilitating the rise of rebel groups in their fight against the Syrian government.

Therefore in response to the Suruc attacks, PKK rebels killed two police officers in Ceylanpinar, a town also approximated near the Syrian border.

This development proved to be ominous as since July, more than 100 members of the Turkish security forces have been killed.

Among the chaos, Turkey faces an enormous test on November 1 as the citizens, including Turkish citizens abroad, will vote once again and aim to uphold the continuation of the fragile electoral democracy of the country.

The June elections, which was the biggest setback to the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 13 years, resulted in a hung parliament as no government were able to obtain the necessary seats needed to form government.

The AKP which had governed Turkey since 2002 won 258 seats with 40.9% of the vote, falling short of the needed 267 seats in the 550-seat parliament.

The main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) stayed put on 25 per cent (132), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on 16.5 per cent (80) and the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in fourth place with 13 per cent (80).

Less than a week before the re-election, AK Party leader and current Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, seems to be taking all measures to secure votes. Speaking at a campaign rally, Davutoglu told his supporters; “you have a job, a salary, food, what’s left? A partner,” and then proposed that if parents are unable to find your perfect love match, “speak to us”.

However, not all party manifestos surround propositions in ‘finding the right one’. Weeks before the re-elections, all the main political parties have declared their party manifestos and have made particular pledges targeting key issues such as the controversial 10% threshold needed to return MPs to parliament.

*TL is the Turkish currency for Turkish Lira.

Despite recent opinion polls and general thoughts among the public demonstrating that results from the June elections are likely to be repeated, in the chaotic and day-to-day politics of Turkey, it would be somewhat naïve to stand by any sort of projection, let alone that, of a general election.