World View: Erdogan’s Party in Turkey Wins Landslide Victory


This morning’s key headlines from

  • Erdogan’s party in Turkey wins landslide victory
  • How Turkey changed in five months

Erdogan’s party in Turkey wins landslide victory

A Turkish woman casts her vote on Sunday in Ankara (AP)
A Turkish woman casts her vote on Sunday in Ankara (AP)

In parliamentary elections on Sunday, Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), the party of Turkey’s strongman president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, made an unexpectedly good showing. AKP captured 316 seats in the 550-seat parliament, meaning that AKP can govern by itself without having to form a coalition with another party.

Although it was a landslide victory for Erdogan, it was not the super-landslide that he had once been hoping for, which would have given AKP the ability to change the constitution to increase Erdogan’s powers.

Sunday’s election reversed the losses that AKP suffered in the June 7 election, where AKP unexpectedly lost its parliamentary majority. In that election, AKP got 41% of the vote, and lost a lot of votes to the Kurdish anti-government far-left Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP), which got 12% of the vote. ( “8-Jun-15 World View — In major election setback, Turkey’s Erdogan loses support as Kurds gain seats”)

After the June 7 election, Erdogan called for a new election, gambling that a new election would let him regain his parliamentary majority. The gamble paid off.

The new election reversed that situation after June 7. AKP got 49% of the vote, while HDP’s results fell to 10.7% of the vote. However, HDP leaders are breathing a sigh of relief, because if their vote share had fallen below 10%, then according to the constitution they would lose all their seats in parliament. As things stand, they still have 59 seats. Zaman (Istanbul) and BBC and CNN

How Turkey changed in five months

The months between the June 7 election and the November 1 election have been some of the bloodiest in Turkey’s recent history.

One reason that the Kurdish party HDP did so well on June 7 was that they promised the voters that they would disarm the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, Europe and the United States. However, once the election ended, they reversed that promise.

Turkey went into a spiral of violence. A July 20 terrorist attack in the city of attack on Suruç killed 33 people, mostly young pro-Kurdish activists. After that, a two-year-old ceasefire agreement between the PKK and the government broke down, and Erdogan declared war on the PKK. ( “9-Sep-15 World View — Turkey slips into chaos as violence spreads across the country”)

But that was not the worst of it. On October 12, Turkey went into a state of shock after a massive terrorist attack at a “peace rally” in the capital city Ankara that killed 97 people and injured hundreds more. It is being referred to as the worst terrorist massacre in Turkey’s history, or as “Turkey’s 9/11.” ( “13-Oct-15 World View — Turkey is seen as increasingly unstable after Ankara massacre”)

In that atmosphere of increasing chaos in Turkey, millions of Turkish voters decided that they really want a strongman in charge, and they voted for Erdogan’s AKP party.

Erdogan is looking strong for another reason. As the refugee crisis in Europe continues and grows, European officials are increasingly seeing Turkey as their only hope of bringing the situation under control, which means that Erdogan will be negotiating with Brussels from a position of strength.

There are some real questions now about what will happen next. Erdogan has gotten his landslide, and a mandate to stop the violence. This could take the form of increased warfare with the PKK, or increased warfare with the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Syria.

Syria is getting very crowded. The Russians have been moving in, and in the last week it was announced that Iran is sending in soldiers, and the US is sending in 50 special forces. Erdogan does not want to see any of Bashar al-Assad, the Kurds, or ISIS to be successful in Syria, and he may decide that his new mandate gives him the right to join the party. Hurriyet (Istanbul) and Sabah (Istanbul) and Zaman (Ankara)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Justice and Development Party, AKP, Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, Suruç, Ankara, Syria, Russia, Iran, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh
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