Two topics dominate the comments after Turkey’s presidential election: the strong showing of Selahattin Demirtaş, the Kurdish candidate, who succeeded in appealing to a broader electorate, and who is generally seen as the real star of the election; and the failure of Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the lackluster joint candidate of the opposition parties CHP and MHP. Liberal and social democratic commentators see Demirtaş’ success as heralding the birth of a new left. These commentators stress that the CHP needs to heed the call of this new left and warn that the party is doomed if it persists in allying itself with the rightist MHP. Meanwhile, the public rift within the AKP between the supporters of president-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the outgoing president Abdullah Gül has led many commentators to speculate about the future of the AKP. The prediction is made that Turkey’s course will be determined by the outcome of the intra-AKP struggle.
By M. K. Kaya (vol. 4, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
The June 12 general election was historic as it was the first general election in Turkey over which the shadow of the military and the other institutions of tutelage did not fall. Yet the ruling party’s tactics ensured that the election campaign still took place in an environment whose atmosphere was all but democratic. The elections underlined Turkey’s traditional split between a rightist majority and a leftist minority; it also showed that the AKP and the Kurdish BDP – the election’s main winner – both benefited from the polarized electoral environment; further, the main opposition CHP’s impossibly eclectic crop of candidates had too little of a common denominator to challenge the AKP. It will now be up to the new parliament to put the divisive campaign behind it and achieve a new constitution through compromise. Whether that is at all likely nevertheless remains doubtful.
By Peter G. Laurens (vol. 4, no. 10 of the Turkey Analyst)
Less than a month from now, Turkish citizens will go to the polls to cast their votes in the Republic’s seventeenth general election. Economic problems are often the catalyst for political change worldwide and in Turkey this is no exception, but in the country at present there is precious little bad economic news for opposition parties to exploit in attempting to weaken the ruling party’s chances at victory.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 9 of the Turkey Analyst)
In late April 2011, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) announced their manifestos for the Turkish general election on June 12, 2011. It is rare for political parties to deliver on all of their pre-election commitments; and many of the promises in both documents are anyway manifestly unworkable. Nevertheless, the content of the CHP’s manifesto demonstrates how far it has moved – in rhetoric at least – towards becoming a fully-fledged social democratic party since Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu became leader in May 2010. But, for the AKP, which currently appears set to win a comfortable majority on June 12, it is not its promises but its silences that cause the most concern; particularly its failure even to formulate policies to address the deepening alienation of the country’s Kurdish minority.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.