Turkey Votes

 

2015-09-08t200504z_1485595093_gf10000197992_rtrmadp_3_mideast-crisis-turkey-pkk.jpg_1718483346According to initial results, a huge number of voters changed their minds at the last minute and decided to vote for the AKP, despite what they said to pollsters. Either this is a huge upset, a sign of fraud, or the early results are way off. With 50 percent counted, the projection is that the AKP will have 331 seats in parliament — enough for single party rule, and to effect constitutional reforms by taking them to a referendum.

The results so far may be skewed because the earliest results are from the east, where the AKP is stronger. CHP and MHP are stronger in the West.

It’s still too early for post-mortems or to say what this means. It will be a long night for those with an interest in Turkey. But right now, it looks like this:

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Published in Foreign Policy
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  1. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    So the all was for naught then. Edrogan wins in the end. I assume that the Kurds still need 10 percent to get seats in parliament.

    • #1
  2. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    From a friend:

    “The pro-Kurdish HDP has now dropped to below the critical 10% level. It may recover but on current trends with 83% of the votes counted, this looks a little unlikely.

    So the next Parliament will have a two thirds majority for the AKP (around 371 seats out of 550) and it will be able to do something it was unable to ever since it came to power in 2002. 

    And there will be no “pro-Kurdish” deputies in the next parliament. Selahattin Demirtaş is not just politically destroyed. He will face several prosecutions for terrorism without any parliamentary immunity.

    And Europe, if one counts Turkey as Europe, could have its first fully fledged non-Communist dictatorship, since the fall of Franco and Salazar. A radical Islamist one.”

    • #2
  3. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Pre-election polls, for comparison:

    Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 17.30.00

    • #3
  4. Susan the Buju Contributor
    Susan the Buju
    @SusanQuinn

    We keep hearing how polls are way off in this country. It makes one wonder if our reliance on polls is going down the tubes. The implications are not only bad for the Kurds but also for other countries, like Israel. Like they don’t have enough troubles.

    • #4
  5. Roadrunner Inactive
    Roadrunner
    @Roadrunner

    Islamic democracy, what could go wrong?  Well when things go wrong we can always fall back on, “bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to spread sharia.”

    • #5
  6. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    If or rather when the AKP enacts its dictatorial agenda what will Europe do in response. I assume this will be the end of Turkey trying to get into the EU. The question I have is will the European power exert any pressure on the AKP to keep them from doing this? Do they actually have any leverage? Also more troubling to ponder is, will this mean that the Kurds will just launch a full rebellion now if the AKP tries to consolidate its power in this manner. I don’t see what would stop because there is clearly no way to use the political process to make any head way as this whole election proves.

    With Iraq and Syria in turmoil the Kurds have a lot of room to maneuver outside of Turkey. Could the various groups outside of Turkey and inside of it unite in a war against Turkey?

    Also who wants to bet that this will not be covered in the US media to any extent until it blows up, and then everyone will be asking how did this come about so unexpectedly.

    • #6
  7. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Roadrunner:Islamic democracy, what could go wrong? Well when things go wrong we can always fall back on, “bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to spread sharia.”

    You would be opposed to allowing in Kurds fleeing Turkey, or cosmopolitan Istanbulers. Cause it sounds like if you like sharia, the AKP might just be the thing for you, why leave?

    • #7
  8. Tim Wright Inactive
    Tim Wright
    @TimWright

    How did these pollsters perform last time out? If they got it right, or roughly so, in the previous election, but are way off this time, then the issue of fraud should be considered. Why do I think there will be no independent assessment of how honest the ballots were? Tim

    • #8
  9. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    “It’s still too early for post-mortems or to say what this means.”

    Let’s see, eternal adversary Russia moving in on the other border, Iran’s soldiers to the south, Russian planes over Turkey, American Patriot missiles withdrawn, Hezbollah ramping up fighters, ISIS and al Qaeda banging away, a personal and political feud with Assad, Kurds resisting Ankara, bombs in the town square blowing up Kurds, America not sure what to do, NATO incapable of doing much but claim to be ready, and 12 sided civil war waging in earshot, …. could it be the Turkish voter just “went to ground” where it is safest?

    Steady. Let’s just wait and see. No need to get anxious yet.

    • #9
  10. Roadrunner Inactive
    Roadrunner
    @Roadrunner

    Valiuth: You would be opposed to allowing in Kurds fleeing Turkey, or cosmopolitan Istanbulers. Cause it sounds like if you like sharia, the AKP might just be the thing for you, why leave?

    If they call themselves Muslims, we will be buying future trouble.  I am not interested in bringing people from “supremacist” groups into the country.  By some definitions Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was cosmopolitan.  He was at ease in many cultures.  He lived in the Philippines, in Europe and in the Unites States.  He even attended a historically Black University.  Something was wrong though and his traveling experiences never had much effect on his core beliefs.  Regarding Kurds, they are victims of a geography and history that doesn’t favor them having a country anytime soon.  As Muslims I think they would still be trouble.

    • #10
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has declared victory for the AKP according to the Beeb.

    • #11
  12. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Claire & All,

    The latest results are with 95% reporting are showing a slightly better outcome.

    Turkey’s strongman president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, tightened his grip on power decisively as his ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) swept back to single-party government with a convincing win in national elections. With more than 95% of the votes counted, the party won almost 50% of the vote. That would give it about 325 seats in the 550-seat parliament, comfortably ahead of its three main rival parties and easily enough to form a government on its own.
    Prime minister and AKP leader, Ahmet Davutoğlu, hailed the result as “victory for democracy”. Addressing party supporters at a victory rally he said: “Hopefully we will serve you well for the next four years.”
    The Leftist pro-Kurdish HDP surpassed the 10% threshold necessary to win seats in the new Parliament. But its support dipped from the 13% it secured in June’s elections to just over 10%.
    Turkish police fired tear gas and water cannon at activists in the Kurdish stronghold city of Diyarbakir. The AKP could improve their vote count in Diyarbakir and increase the numbers of local delegates to two.
    The vote of the main opposition Republican People’s party (CHP) secured just below what it achieved in June with about 25% of the vote and about 134 seats. Support for the nationalist MHP fell sharply with only 12% and about 40 seats compared to 80 in June’s election.

    The Kurds still hit their 10% but just barely.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #12
  13. Marley's Ghost Coolidge
    Marley's Ghost
    @MarleysGhost

    I’ll let Al say it…
    Constantinople

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGdXbwl5QxA&feature=youtu.be

    • #13
  14. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Tja, so was. Die Welt is calling this a betrayal of democracy. If I have time I will provide a brief translation of their editorial, the title of which is “Ein schwarzer Tag fuer die Tuerkei.”

    • #14
  15. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Here are the important paragraphs from the editorial in Die Welt, translated for the benefit of the non-German speaking Ricochetti (arme Seelen, die sie sind):

    One might well wish that Turkey were a somewhat functional democracy with a reliable rule of law. Then one could, as a good supporter of democracy, congratual the conservative Islamic on its ever-more apparent electoral victory.

    But one cannot. Because in a somewhat functional democracy, a president of the nation would not exceed the constitutional  authority vested in him to this degree.

    • #15
  16. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Hartmann von Aue: Because in a somewhat functional democracy, a president of the nation would not exceed the constitutional  authority vested in him to this degree.

    They’re still talking about Turkey, right?

    • #16
  17. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    From Michael Koplow, and I agree:

    A Quick Reaction to the AKP Victory

    November 1, 2015

    I need some time to absorb today’s election results and think about them more thoroughly, but a few brief points in the immediate aftermath.

    I certainly will not pretend to have foreseen this result. Had someone predicted to me yesterday that the AKP would replicate its 2011 parliamentary victory, I would have laughed at the idea and dismissed the person as naive or a Turkey neophyte. I know of no serious Turkey analyst, either Turkish or otherwise, who saw this coming, and the polling whiffed entirely, so both I and everyone else need to figure out where the gap is between the polling/analysis and actual results. I will, however, take credit for writing on the day after the previous election that it was not a loss for the AKP, that Erdoğan was still going to control the direction in which Turkey moved, and doubting the analysis of a liberal wave or new era in Turkish politics. At least I got something right!

    Assuming that these results are accurate – and I’ll get to why that may be a question in a minute – Erdoğan and the AKP’s strategy has been vindicated beautifully. After the June 7 election, Erdoğan took the gamble that introducing some instability into the system, linking the HDP to the PKK and Kurdish terrorism, turning even more nationalist and polarizing, and arguing that not handing the AKP a parliamentary majority was a recipe for further chaos, would all result in a second election that would net the AKP a larger vote share. A lot of people, including me, thought that this strategy spun out of the AKP’s grasp and that the AKP would end up either in the same spot or even lose some ground given the violent clashes between the army and the PKK, terrorist attacks inside Turkey that were almost certainly carried out by ISIS, the introduction of Russia into the Syrian civil war in a direct way and on Assad’s side, and an economy that is not improving. As has been the case repeatedly over the last decade and a half, Erdoğan’s political instincts are better than everyone else’s, and while the preliminary results do not have him getting the supermajority he has so craved in order to install his beloved presidential system, the AKP is back to a majority of seats in parliament.

    How does something like this happen? After everything that has gone on in Turkey over the past five months, how is it possible that the AKP increased its vote share in every single city? How is it possible that the AKP is only a few seats short of its 2011 victory despite a worse economy, a foreign policy that has blown up, terrorist attacks in Turkey’s streets, renewed fighting with the PKK, and far greater political polarization? Looking at the results that have been released, the AKP has picked up seats from the nationalist MHP and from the Kurdish HDP, and turnout overall is up. That says to me that the nationalist positioning worked exactly as it was supposed to, since nationalist voters figured that they may as well vote for the suddenly ultra-nationalist party that will be the largest party rather than the ultra-nationalist party that will come in third. In terms of the loss of vote share for the HDP, it’s probably a combination of the AKP’s constant allegations tying the HDP to the PKK and some HDP voters getting fed up with the system since the HDP’s historic success in June did not translate into any increased power for the party or an increased voice for Kurds, and some of the voters who cast their ballots for the HDP last time but are historic AKP voters returning to the AKP fold. People who pay attention to Turkish politics spend a lot of time reading the Turkish press online and conversing with each other on social media, but the vast majority of Turkish voters get their information from Turkish television, and last week’s seizure of Koza Ipek television stations reinforces that if you get your news from Turkish television, you are getting a relentless pro-government message. So in hindsight, it is easy to see how the AKP’s message that instability was the result of not giving the AKP a majority in June and that the only way to restore things was to correct course today, and drowning out every alternative argument to the contrary, could have produced the desired result.

    Of course, there is also another possibility, which is that what seems to be impossible actually is. As of this writing, the AKP has received an additional 4.3 million votes over what it received in June. Also as of this writing, the Turkish Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) has not released any official results and the YSK website is down, and it has been ever since voting ended. I’m an Occam’s Razor kind of guy, and quite frankly, the prospect of the AKP doing so much better five months later despite things being so much worse seems like it should be statistically impossible. The central elections website is down, votes were counted hours faster than they were last time, the ban on broadcasting results was lifted before it was supposed to…I’m not in a position to make accusations of fraud, but there is definitely some unusual stuff going on. The bottom line, however, is that even if there turns out to be nothing irregular at all about the actual vote tally, the facts are that the AKP spent five months harassing opposition politicians, arresting opposition journalists, shutting down television stations and newspapers, accusing the HDP of supporting terrorism, and warning the entire country that the instability that has wracked the country would look like child’s play if the AKP were not handed a majority this time. Whatever you want to call the sum total of those tactics, they do not make for a free and fair election. Welcome to the era of competitive authoritarianism, Turkey.

    • #17
  18. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    I’m disappointed, but conflict with an “enemy” often results in a political bounce for a leader.

    (Indira Gandhi/1971 Bangladesh War, Thatcher/Falklands, GW Bush/9-11, Modi/Gujarat 2002.)

    The Army resuming the conflict with the PKK effectively campaigned for the AKP.

    Eventually, I hope, people get wise to it – but it might be a process that has to be undergone?  What I don’t understand is why the MHP’s vote share decreased at the same time.

    • #18
  19. Byron Horatio Inactive
    Byron Horatio
    @ByronHoratio

    Claire,

    Should we expect Erdrogan to not only continue but to intensify his war against the Kurds now? It seems he has a mandate to do so. What internal limitation is there now on the Turks invading northern Syria to create a “buffer zone?”

    • #19
  20. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Byron Horatio: Should we expect Erdrogan to not only continue but to intensify his war against the Kurds now

    He may well resume the peace process. The war had an electoral purpose; it’s been served; no reason to continue it.

    • #20
  21. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Somehow, those tiki lawn torches just don’t have the same effect. The angry mob ain’t what it used to be.

    • #21
  22. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Zafar: The Army resuming the conflict with the PKK effectively campaigned for the AKP.

    Yes.

    Eventually, I hope, people get wise to it

    Not if you systematically rub out everything else you need to be a functional multi-party democracy. If he succeeds in changing the constitution, I think we can say goodbye to many of the elements of Turkish democracy that would make an electoral challenge possible at all. Hope not, but so far being pessimistic about the direction this is going hasn’t once served me poorly. (NB: They took 49.4 percent of the vote, so 315 seats in the 550-member parliament, according to results with almost all ballots counted. To change the constitution to a the “presidential” system Erdoğan wants– which would not be at all what we mean by that, but rather a pure elected dictatorship — the AKP needed to win 367 seats to do it by fiat, and 330 to do it by a referendum. Now they’d need to find 15 opposition MPs to vote with them, which is not highly likely, but not impossible.

    – but it might be a process that has to be undergone?  What I don’t understand is why the MHP’s vote share decreased at the same time.

    Because if you’re going to vote for the Kurd-hating nationalists, why vote for the small, ineffective party, possibly even wasting your vote if they don’t pass the threshold, when you can have the AKP? He completely stole their Kurd-hating nationalist thunder. And managed to steal votes from the HDP at the same time by basically promising them that if they didn’t vote for them, he’d kill them. A savvy politician, I must say.

    I haven’t in my own mind ruled out fraud, although no one seems to think it’s very likely. The disjunct between all the polls and the results is huge, though; and I certainly don’t think any moral scruple  would keep them from committing fraud. Oy Ve Otesi (a grass-roots election-monitoring body) is going to triple-check the votes; if there’s any sign of fraud, I do trust them to find and report it (and then be arrested for doing so, but at least we’ll know).

    I guess on the bright side, with the election over and resolved, we’ll probably see a sharp decline in the violence and the extreme rhetoric, which might keep the country from marching off the edge to outright civil war. Perhaps after a few years of calm Turkey can begin to think about democracy again; for now, a single-party dictatorship may genuinely be better for ordinary Turkish people who didn’t want to be caught in that crossfire. Indeed, that’s what 49.4 percent of them seem to have told us. And I can’t judge them harshly for it; given what they’ve seen happen to their neighbors — and given that they certainly know there’s no way out of Turkey — it’s a reasonable calculation. The reason competitive authoritarianism along the Putin model works is that it’s not like the old-fashioned authoritarianism in which everyone suffers. If you back the authoritarian, you’re handsomely rewarded. You have to have a hell of an ideological commitment to liberal democracy to keep fighting for it after that seeing everyone who tries get thrown in jail or killed, over and over, this over a period of decades, and knowing that you’re totally isolated: The US won’t say a word, and neither will Europe. Never in Turkish history has anyone fought the state and won. So in a way, it’s a totally rational survival strategy.

    • #22
  23. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:I haven’t in my own mind ruled out fraud, although no one seems to think it’s very likely.

    Could be that the good news is: no fraud.

    But then the bad news is also: no fraud.

    If this dictatorship of the majority comes to pass:

    What form will resistance and opposition to one party rule take, in your opinion, if electoral pathways for meaningful dissent are cut off?  Because there is always opposition, it’s just a matter of what format it adopts.

    Is it likely to be Marxist/Leftist of some sort?

    I can’t think of any other available type (Islamist? taken; Nationalist? taken) that could be adopted, and that’s dispiriting.

    Or is there any appetite in Turkey for the hyper-Islamism of ISIS?

    • #23
  24. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Zafar:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:I haven’t in my own mind ruled out fraud, although no one seems to think it’s very likely.

    Could be that the good news is: no fraud.

    I don’t know. YSK website down, with no explanation. In five months, AKP gained roughly 4.5 million votes. MHP lost 1.9 million; & HDP lost 1.0 million. HDP drops 8 percentage in its stronghold. Faster than normal results reporting. Pollsters were breathtakingly accurate in June elections. This time, they all got it wrong in more or less the same way. So either all public polls wildly off by any measure, or fraud.

    But before anyone says, “Well, fraud, obviously” — pollsters in Turkey are notoriously corrupt and incompetent.

    If this dictatorship of the majority comes to pass:

    What form will resistance and opposition to one party rule take, in your opinion, if electoral pathways for meaningful dissent are cut off? Because there is always opposition, it’s just a matter of what format it adopts.

    Is it likely to be Marxist/Leftist of some sort?

    I don’t know. There have already been riots in Diyarbakir outside the HDP headquarters. Several hours of clashes last night, apparently.

    There will be no push-back from anyone in the West if he crushes any remaining dissent; Merkel has more or less explicitly made a deal — keep the refugees on your side of the border, and we’ll never say another word about human rights in Turkey; the US, likewise — let us use Incirlik and you can do whatever you want at home.

    Short sighted, of course.

    I can’t think of any other available type (Islamist? taken; Nationalist? taken) that could be adopted, and that’s dispiriting.

    Or is there any appetite in Turkey for the hyper-Islamism of ISIS?

    I don’t think that could happen unless he goes full-on Assad. I don’t think that’s in the works; he’s a much more subtle operator than that.

    • #24
  25. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Percival:

    Hartmann von Aue: Because in a somewhat functional democracy, a president of the nation would not exceed the constitutional authority vested in him to this degree.

    They’re still talking about Turkey, right?

    I had thought for a minute they were talking about the US. But no, they are still talking about Turkey.

    • #25
  26. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: He may well resume the peace process. The war had an electoral purpose; it’s been served; no reason to continue it.

    This is why we need to remain calm.

    Michael Koplow: The bottom line, however, is that even if there turns out to be nothing irregular at all about the actual vote tally, the facts are that the AKP spent five months harassing opposition politicians, arresting opposition journalists, shutting down television stations and newspapers, accusing the HDP of supporting terrorism, and warning the entire country that the instability that has wracked the country would look like child’s play if the AKP were not handed a majority this time. Whatever you want to call the sum total of those tactics, they do not make for a free and fair election. Welcome to the era of competitive authoritarianism, Turkey.

    Yes, when there is civil disorder, millions of refugees from next door, a civil war raging nearby, other nation’s joining the fight, the US backing Kurdish fighters on the border and pulling out Patriot missile batteries, NATO talking and at the ready, and extreme terrorist groups operating freely, things turn authoritarian.

    Steady. . . Watch.  Learn.  This is very complex.

    • #26
  27. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    For those following this closely, I’m watching this right now

    The OSCE committee has pronounced the elections free, but not fair.

    • #27
  28. Manny Coolidge
    Manny
    @Manny

    Why is Turkey in the European Union?  Why is Turkey in NATO?  Obviously it doesn’t hold western values, nor am I confident it stands against Islamism.

    • #28
  29. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Not in the EU

    • #29
  30. Manny Coolidge
    Manny
    @Manny

    Titus Techera:Not in the EU

    Just looked it up.  They are some sort of “associate member,” whatever that means.  But you’re right, they’re not a full member.

    • #30
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