Turkish Elections 2011


No escape from the Erdogan posters everywhere in Istanbul (www.jb-photography.org)

Recep Erdogan Risked and Won but Failed to Increase AKP’s Seats in Parliament

There are always two sides of a medal. This simple fact of life is often neglected but weathered politicians like Recep Erdogan accept what is offered philosophically and move on. Two facts made the election interesting: Erdogan achieved a personal victory and the AKP-propped 10%-entry barrier snatched away part of the victory from him.

Four parties will constitute Turkey’s new Parliament or Meclis: The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Kurdish independent candidates, supported by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

The Turkish elections 2011 were a personal victory for Recep Erdogan because he determined the list of candidates’ names alone and left the voters with a single choice – to support his choice. This risk had been taken by two other leaders in the history of Turkey: Adnan Menderes (1950, 1954) and Süleyman Demirel in 1965. Now Erdogan was the third to gamble. Thus, the ruling AKP will form a majority government after winning over 49.9 percent of the popular vote. However, with 326 seats the AKP missed the 330-seat requirement to be able to draft the a new constitution for Turkey alone and then have it offered for a referendum.

The unpleasant surprise played by the 10-percent barrier was that AKP got more votes but less seats in the Meclis and so was deprived from the opportunity to be the sole and autonomous author of the Constitution. As CHP’s leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu put it, his party was the only one to increase its seats in the 550-member Turkish Parliament (to 135). Despite the series of sex-tape scandals, which considerably shattered its reputation, the right-wing MNP also managed to overcome the 10% barrier and managed to gain 53 seats. The Kurdish independent candidates scored a real success by getting 36 seats and boosting BDP’s presence in parliament by 50%.

In his post-election victory speech, Erdogan made three crucial points. He emphasized Turkey’s regional role, promised more freedoms to the citizens of Turkey and gave his word that the Constitution would be a Constitution of “the Kurd, of Turkmen people, of Alevis, of all minorities, which means all 74 million people”. Thus, he predetermined the three topics on which his future success will be measured.

Commentary by Mariela Zamfirova, 14 June 2011 / Image: JB Photography

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About Johann Brandstätter

Photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Bulgaria, working mainly in the Balkans and the Middle East. Conflicts & crises, social and environmental issues, defense & military, travel, transportation.
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