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turkey politics

The impact of the recent election in Turkey

The recent election in Turkey gave victory to the AKP party (Justice and Development Party), of the Turkish President, Recep Erdogan. They have been in power since 2002.

The AKP received 41% of votes, more than any other party and ahead of the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) with 25%, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) at 16.5 %, and the pro-Kurdish left-wing People’s Democracy Party (HDP) with 13 %. However, for the first time AKP cannot govern with a majority in Parliament. This was a serious blow to Erdogan and could be a critical turning point to determine the Turkish ambitions to be a regional power in the Middle East.

Two reasons may contribute to this; the difficulty Erdogan will have trying to modify the Constitution, which requires the support of two thirds of the parliament and the emergence of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic (HDP) who will have seats in Parliament for the first time.

AKP is an islamist party, and Erdogan had an agenda for a “new” Turkey, ie, a more religious state but this would have required significant constitutional changes. These changes would have given Erdogan more power and would likely have an increasingly negative effect on civil liberties.

All the three opposition parties, the HDP, CHP and MHP had united against Erdogan’s proposals to alter the presidential system. Although moderate, and advocating a market economy, AKP’s government has become increasingly authoritarian.

Throughout Erdogan’s presidency there have been increasing pressures on certain freedoms; journalists have been arrested for criticising the government (in 2013, Turkey imprisoned more journalists than any other country in the world), there have been restrictions imposed aon social media nd Erdogan has also made several comments against gender equality.

The 13% of the vote gained by the HDP reduced the power of the ruling party. The Kurds saw this election as a possible end to decades of struggle that included action by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) insurgents based along the Northern Iraq/Turkish border area. This insurgency has killed 40.000 people since 1984.

Erdogan accused the HDP of being the political front to the PKK but in reality they are composed of left leaning liberals that focused their election programme on minority rights. After Daesh’s siege of Kobani, near the Syrian border, many conservative Kurds, who were traditional AKP supporters felt abandoned by Erdogan’s government and voted for the HDP.

Despite being a NATO member, Turkey has been accused of turning a blind eye to international jihadis that are going to Syria via Turkish border. Now Turkey’s foreign policy will have more difficulty following Erdogan’s ambitions of making Turkey a regional player, inspired by an islamist agenda, as the opposition parties will likely have a more moderating effect on the policies he would have liked.

The conflict in Northern Iraq and Syria with Daesh will force Erdogan to engage with the Kurds if he wants internal political stability and to reduce the threat from the jihadis. What ever the path is that is followed, Erdogan’s approach will change and the Kurds now have a greater political power base.

This report has been provided by GlobalRiskAwareness, a leading Cyber Intelligence company with expertise in Middle East Regional issues.

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