Is yesterday’s general election result a victory for the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AK Parti? Or is it a victory for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan? Probably, the correct answer is the latter; as Erdoğan ignored traditional party politics based on the grassroots’ tendencies and replaced it with the “I will determine the candidates’ name and you are going to vote for them” approach. It was a risk, and he won.
The magic 50 percent of the votes has been touched by only two politicians before: Twice in 1950 and 1954 by the late Adnan Menderes and then by Süleyman Demirel in 1965. Yesterday, Erdoğan managed to be the third politician in Turkey to get his name written on the pantheon. One in every two voters on the street voted for him and his AK Parti.
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s efforts failed to break the 30 percent curse on the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP. Kılıçdaroğlu made more kilometers than Erdoğan during the election campaign (and 10-fold of his predecessor Deniz Baykal). He updated his party’s position on the Kurdish issue, on the European Union and social welfare.
Yet, Kılıçdaroğlu could only get slightly more than half of the voter support given to Erdoğan’s push for more political control over the military and judiciary and to the prime minister’s project-based election campaign. Kılıçdaroğlu might face some difficulty now within his own party.
Devlet Bahçeli, on the other hand, consolidated his power in the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP. AK Parti wanted to see MHP below the much-criticized 10 percent election threshold and some of the party chiefs could not hide their joy when a series of sex tapes related to prominent MHP politicians were released on the web. It backfired, MHP got over 13 percent and that cost AK Parti a new and tailor-made constitution mandate.
The Kurdish nationalists as well bypassed the AK Parti-backed 10 percent and got more than 30 seats in the 550-seat Turkish Parliament, or the Meclis, by increasing the possible Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, presence there by more than 50 percent.
Let alone the 367 seats that was sought by Erdoğan to be able to pass an AK Parti-shaped constitution from Parliament, Erdoğan missed the 330-seat requirement to be able to take the draft to referendum alone. Ironically, the 10-percent weapon of Erdoğan backfired in a way that the AK Parti increased its votes, but the number of its seats in Parliament decreased.
The voters wanted to see Erdoğan and his government in power for another four years, but asked him to seek compromise for a new constitution with opposition parties.
Is Erdoğan going to look for common ground with opposition and with whom? The answer to those questions will shape the Turkish politics in the months ahead.