Monday, July 23, 2007

Analysis of the Results of the Turkish General Elections

Logically speaking there were only three possible outcomes :

1) AKP gets an increased majority in the parliament, obtains the 367 MPs needed to install its own choice as president. If that happens look for a coup by the military.

2) AKP maintains its current single party majority -- the status quo.
AKP is not happy but the Army is not unhappy -- i.e. status quo.
Look for more of the same general level of stability.

3) AKP loses its current single party majority and has to form a coalition goverment. Erdogan has said he would resign from polticis if this were to happen. Look for turmoil and unrest with some jostling and attempted power grabs by Kurds. A state of turmoil is not too untypical of Turkish politics and could get out of hand in a couple of years bringing another coup to restore balance.

The most stable outcome therefore is no.2.

So what did happen ?

Well the AKP increased it percentage of the popular vote yet the number of its MPs has gone down to 342. The chief reason for this outcome is that the MHP which had failed by a narrow margin in 2002 to surpass the 10% threshold required for parliamentary presence did so this time around. It's presence in Parliament has, therefore, gone from nil to 70 MPs. More on this later.

Meanwhile, there has been a crop of 25+2 independent candidates in parliament. This is largely because of the rule that independent candidates are not subject to the 10% threshold : you win, you get in.

The 25 independents are not really independent but represent a block of Kurdish politicians from the southeast region of Turkey. They have had to run as independents because the state apparatus is not allowing Kurds to organise formally into parties. The other 2 independents are independents in the truer meaning of the word. They represent various political ideologies not covered by the spectrum of official parties.

So much for the immediate outcome. What might be the more long term legacy of this new parliament ?

First, there is the issue of who will be the next President of Turkey which is the reason why these elections were forced upon the ruling AKP in the first place.

Prior to the 22nd July and going into the elections, AKP's stated policy has been to change the law to allow for election of the President by popular vote rather than by the Parliament which is how it is currently done. Now with this result, the question in my mind is whether AKP will push for this change in the law or attempt to install its' own candidate directly via the parliamentary process.

It needs 367 votes which it does not currently have but might be able to acquire by winning over some Independents and some of the new MHP parliamentarians. My brother Alp, who follows these things more closely than I do, thinks there might even be some significant transfers of candidates between the parties once the new parliament is in session.

The wild card for the future will, I think, be the impact on the country that the presence of this new block of MHP parliamentarians will have. I don't hide my view that I think they can but have a negative influence as they are an ultra-nationalist and fascistic party. Enough said.

Another wild card for the future is the Army. I think the immediate danger of a coup d'etat has been averted. However, the manner in which the next President is elected as well as the the type of person who eventually takes office will play a big role on what actions, if any, the Turkish army might take in domestic politics.


bikea said...

Truthfully, I've been quite ignorant and uninformed of much of the mechanics of this election.. so thanks for spelling it out in laymen's terms. We have Turkish satellite tv, but TUrkish is my 2nd language, so I'm constantly about 5-10 seconds behind in comprehension.

Celal Birader said...
This comment has been removed by the author.