By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Those having great concern of the rise of Turkish President Recep Erdogan as a threat to free speech and his pursuit of an increasingly autocratic government can breathe, at least in the short term, a collective sigh of relief. With ninety-nine percent of the polling counted, Erdogan’s AK Party lost its parliamentary majority, preventing it from successfully pursuing constitutional changes that could solidify his power and what likely would lead further erosion of the traditionally secular state. This is the most significant setback to the AKP in the thirteen years it has governed over Turkey.
The announcement of the loss of majority came as a surprise as many feared manipulation of the voting process and witnessed numerous attempts at voter suppression and the jailing of media officials and those critical of the president.
A two-thirds majority sought by President Erdogan would mean his party could unilaterally amend Turkey’s constitution to extend his powers and establish a favorable presidential republic. The AKP garnered forty one percent of the vote; the Republican People’s Party (CHP) 25 percent, and the largely Kurdish HDP ten. The HDP’s breaking of the ten percent threshold is significant because it permits the party to be seated in parliament. This also mandates that the AKP form either a minority government or enter into a coalition with another party.
HDP was bolstered by a formation of a unified party in its attempt to achieve the ten percent standing. It also found support from the young, gay rights advocates, leftists and staunch reactionaries to President Erdogan and the AKP.
The vote shows clearly a referendum on President Erdogan along with the direction he was taking Turkey as the New York Times reported HERE.
In the months prior to this election we have among others reported the increasing erosion of the democratic process and tolerance of opposition in Turkey. Several articles may be read in the links HERE, HERE and HERE.)
Turkey engaged in political intrigue in an attempt to provide distraction and influence over elections.
To add additional historical perspectives, in the early spring of 2014, on the pretext of a leaked audiotape where allegedly several top security officers of the nation discussed an attack on the Tomb of Tomb of Suleiman Shah, the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire–which is located in Syria and the subject of much worry about an attack staged by ISIS–lead to the government declaring a ban on Internet users accessing Twitter. This occurred one day following a ruling by a Turkish court overturning a previous ban on the social medium. Several days later, a new court hearing provided another media ban on the release of the recording.
Several opposition figures, including Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the CHP, feared President Erdogan would cause military action to be taken in Syria to bolster nationalism behind his party. Earlier an F-16 of the Turkish Air Force shot down a Syrian jet, spawning speculation the president would seize this as an opportunity. In an interview Mr. Kilicdaroglu stated:
“Erdogan recognizes that he is in trouble. That is why he wants to go to war with Syria. We raised the issue of the Tomb of Suleiman Shah [the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman dynasty whose tomb is protected by Turkish troops]. They instantly shot down the Syrian plane. They are doing their best to go to war against Syria, to drag us into that quagmire. To this end, they are playing good cop, bad cop with al-Qaeda. They tell al-Qaeda, ‘Go attack and tear down our [Turkish flag raised over Suleiman Shah’s tomb] so we have an excuse to go in.’ Syria is no threat to Turkey. The whole world knows this. The Syrian plane was a reconnaissance plane that was seeking al-Qaeda targets. By shooting it down, they helped al-Qaeda.”
Probably the most troubling and certainly outrageous events leading up to the June seven election show a concerted and lethal aspect of the worry the HDP party conjured.
According the Diken news service various social media reported one hundred twenty two attacks were executed against HDP headquarters and events within the country. These reportedly occurred in sixty of Turkey’s eighty one provinces.
The violence and harassment of the pro-Kurdish population culminated in the simultaneous bombings of the HDP bureaus in Adana and Mersin. Adana is Turkey’s fourth largest city. The Adana attack nearly killed the highly revered and popular party chairman Selahattin Demirtas who was late in arriving at the later devastated headquarters. It is believed he was a high-value target in the attack.
Returning to the elections, it is welcome news that this could signal a derailment of President Ergodan’s terminal journey into authoritarianism in Turkey. Yet given past events it is unlikely that the censorship and intimidation will cease immediately. If it is to be that President Erdogan and his government can be controlled or defanged, despite his winning of his presidential election, it would be welcome if this is to occur by popular and legitimate vote. This will establish legitimacy to government and the direction of Turkey without the taint of the several coups d’état prosecuted by the military during previous leaders’ divergences.
It is with much hope to many this will enable the start of a new beginning for the Turkish People.
By Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.
11 thoughts on “Erdogan’s Ruling AKP Loses Majority In Turkish Elections”
Lol nobody wants to mention that we have been, for decades, in lock-step with the Turkish government in policy towards Kurds. Check Clinton Administration records, how did we end up selling copious arms (I think more than anytime since WWII combined) during this administration? Turkey.
Here, since it’s America that shouldn’t and wouldn’t ever be discussed, but it gets to the heart of the role we play as citizens, an academic and law enforcement official (Y’all have power to persuade Erdogan or people in his administration?)
Hope the Erdogan of the Blog is not around so this comment doesn’t get deleted. #FreeSpeech
Spinelli is correct. As we “speak” Ergodan is reaching out to the HDP offering them a really good deal in the negotiations for Kurdish autonomy. There’s a better than even chance that the HDP, faced with a choice of achieving autonomy with Ergodan (and having him dependent on HDP for his job) versus the status quo with a minority government (i.e., chaos), the Kurds will choose autonomy.
Heck, we Texans would vote for liberals if they promised we could secede.
I’m surprised with such a wide margin of votes against him, but I’m apprehensive as we wait to what will replace him. As my Jewish friends would say, “It could be werse.”
What about the irony of deleting my comment on a post discussing Erdogan’s government? Erdogan hates when people dissent and his gov. has gone as far to shut-down access to Twitter. I did not even dissent, but rather pointed out something the author demonstrates in the post (there are several links to other stories about Erdogan). Great authoritarianism, you must love the power on here!
My comment on here got deleted. Whoever did that, whattsup? you are the Erdogan of this blog!!!! But you love civil liberties? Don’t stifle speech by deleting it. That’s not protecting free speech. If this blog decided what free speech was valuable we would be back several centuries with little literature.
[music- to the tune of Henry The Eighth I am I am]
I’m ErdoGan The 8th I am.
Erdogan the 8th I am, I am.
I got married to the widow next door.
She’s been married seven times before.
And, everyone was an Erdogan!
She wouldn’t have a Willie or a Fred.
Cause there ain’t no name like Erdogan!
Erdogan the 8th I am!
Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad “the lion” attended postgraduate studies at the Western Eye Hospital, in London, specializing in ophthalmology.
Assad recommends teeth whitening treatment for mouth and new jazzy eye glasses to see world in better perspective. Smile more and tell joke every now and then.
A play on words. Err do gone. He looks like a schmuck and quacks like a duck.
Since I lived in Turkey thanks to the USAF, I got to appreciate those folks. So I am quite happy to see that this apostate from Ataturk is stopped for awhile at least. The military has lost much of its power which is a mixed blessing. On the one hand they used to assure the secular state, but on the other, they fostered corruption and military rule, and misused their power to prevent leftist governments from staying in power. Hopefully, this trend will continue and Erdogan will be gone sooner rather than later.
Yes, Control freaks like this di not go quietly into the night.
Much as I applaud the result, I am afraid it is not over until the fat lady sings.
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