November 4, 2015
AKP’s outright majority is clearly Erdogan’s personal achievement. HDP crossed the Rubicon and CHP secured front opposition. All that as freedom of speech is violated and situation with the implementation of the rule of law is alarming.
Turkey’s long-serving ruler reaffirmed he has the way to take what he wants. Both as PM and President, Erdogan still embodies a safe shelter for almost 50% of the electorate. This time it was not his emotional speeches and swings to the public nor the over-presentation of Turkey’s economic miracle or geopolitical appeal, but a crucial dilemma strategically built in the political discourse since last June. Erdogan asked the citizens if they want stability and security or the return to chaos. Turks chose the first.
The resounding win of AKP creates a powerful government in Ankara and gives an end to a 5-month political instability in the country. If the results were same as in June, it is certain that the political vacuum would be even deeper and repercussions for instability uncontrollable. Previous negotiations on coalition government were fruitless and nothing could show that another round would be useful and productive.
A major issue for Ankara is the handling of the refugee crisis and the membership talks with Brussels. Now that elections are gone, EU is expected to sharpen its rhetoric on Turkey, both on the smuggling issue and with respect to the protection of human rights and freedom of speech. In both topics, AKP should shift course and respect fundamental global rules. It is not certain that the ruling party will concede or continue to implement a phobic and interventionist policy.
CHP remained static again, resembling more to a party that likes to be in front opposition, protecting itself from decision-making cost. The good thing for Kılıcdaroglu is that he will have the chance to cooperate with HDP in the National Assembly on topics of mutual concern and strengthen its voice and pressure against AKP. Both CHP and HDP see Erdogan’s political oppression as a strongly divisive and dangerous choice in the domestic political scene, posing direct threat to democracy. On a similar front, CHP should assume a more energetic role as it risks, mid and long-term, to be swept electorally by HDP; the latter combines efficiently a strong opposition against AKP with a vibrant mobilization and activism.
HDP secured for a second time after June its position in the National Assembly and passed the 10% threshold, despite the belligerent rhetoric against the party -and broadly against the Kurdish movement- during these last months. HDP lost around 1 million voters, but finally it succeeded to be the second largest opposition party. Demirtas can now officially bring in the mainstream political discourse a number of important topics: freedom of speech, protection of media against state censorship, unfolding of Kurdish issue, radicalization of social agenda.
Given HDP’s pro-EU stance, the party can also play a vital and constructive role pushing Ankara to accelerate reforms on crucial EU chapters. Similarly, Demirtas has the chance to broaden the electoral basis of his party and further penetrate into urban areas on the western areas of Turkey The gradual de-Kurdization of HDP, without undermining its predominant Kurdish character, is a really hard task but remains the only way to evolve into a robust challenger of AKP.
*To article was published at Bridging Europe (bridgingeurope.net). Co-authored by Dimitris Rapidis and Deniz Eksioglu.Dimitris Rapidis