Today, Turkey voted in parliamentary elections to elect the country’s next government and Prime Minister.
Due to the electoral threshold of 10%, only four parties were able to acquire seats: the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Now, for the first time in 13 years, it no longer holds the 50% majority it needs to form a single-party government, reflecting strong public opposition to Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s highly controversial rule.
After coming into power in 2002, with Erdogan as Prime Minister, the AKP government started to implement a wave of policies which went against some of Turkey’s secular principles. Their rule was seen by many as being overly authoritarian, although the party denied these claims.
Last August, as Erdogan won Turkey’s first ever presidential election by a simple majority of 52%, his roles as Prime Minister and leader of the party were carried on to Davutoglu – the former Minister of Foreign Affairs. To mark the occasion, Erdogan had a $615 million palace built for himself using taxpayer money, causing public outrage over his plans to rule the country through an executive Presidential system, described as “quasi-dictatorial” by the opposition.
Due to its consistent attacks on freedom of speech and transparent democracy, AKP’s critics are both nationally and internationally numerous. As a result of Erdogan’s rule, Turkey currently ranks 149th out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index, making it one of the least free countries on the planet despite its thriving economy in Europe.
In 2013, during the Gezi Park Protests, dozens of citizens lost their lives and thousands were imprisoned. Journalists who criticise the government are frequently arrested and imprisoned.
Today, they won 25% of the national vote, potentially giving them the chance to form a coalition government with either MHP or HDP in order to move the political tide back towards secularism.
As the founding party of the Turkish Republic, CHP was established in 1923 by Ataturk and governed the country for several decades. Today, it is the most prominent opposition to AKP. The party supports social democracy, secularism, civil and political equality for women, state support of the sciences, and free education.
Throughout AKP’s rule, CHP has consistently been against censoring of media, for freedom of speech, and for further integration into the European Union.
Photograph by Reuters
When video tapes proving government corruption by Erdogan were posted on Youtube, CHP played a key role in bringing public attention to the issue and holding AKP accountable. Yet, despite all the controversy surrounding AKP and clear evidence of corruption, conservative voters continue to support them.
Economically, CHP advocates social democracy along the lines of other parties in the Party of European Socialists (PES). Although AKP saw GDP growth rates soar to 10% with low inflation, the tides have recently turned the other way with a rising budget deficit, high unemployment, and high inflation. This presents an opportunity for CHP to garner support by offering a more stable future with better prospects for the working class.
Today, they won 16% of the national vote, allowing them to be a very important force in Parliament if CHP seeks to form a coalition against AKP.
Photograph by Osman Orsal
As a right-wing party, it is known for its Turkish nationalist ideology, and is currently the third biggest party in Parliament. It has long played a key role in Turkish politics, even coming together with CHP in the 2014 presidential election to field a joint candidate, Ihsanoglu.
Its performance was likely to determine the entire country’s future, and it did. If it had not managed to pass the 10% electoral threshold, all of its votes would have been distributed proportionally to the other 3 parties. This would have allowed AKP to gain a larger majority of seats, potentially having enough to change the constitution and install an executive Presidential system with Erdogan as ruler.
However, as HDP passed the barrage with 13% of the national vote, AKP’s hopes of forming a single-party government were quashed. This means that CHP could now potentially form a coalition government with HDP, although MHP’s collaboration in such a venture is unlikely.
Photograph by Lefteris Pitakaris
As the fourth largest party in Turkey, HDP supports a range of progressive views including secularism, democratic socialism, anti-capitalism, environmentalism, direct democracy, minority rights, LGBT rights, feminism, and anti-nationalism. It aims to represent various ethnic minorities within Turkey, of which Kurds are the most prominent group.
The 29 seats won by the HDP in previous elections were obtained as a result of the unification of multiple independent deputies. This year, for the first time, they took part in elections as a party, which indicated their confidence in passing the electoral threshold.