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 Gareth Jenkins (vol. 7, no. 14 of the Turkey Analyst)
Despite his convincing victory in the presidential elections on August 10, 2014, there appears little prospect of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan being able to replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with a presidential one and ruling the country singlehandedly for two successive five-year terms.
The nomination of Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu as the joint candidate of the two opposition parties CHP and MHP in the upcoming presidential election has set off a lively debate among pro-CHP, secularist commentators.
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 Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 11 of the Turkey Analyst)
On May 21, 2011, six members of the Turkish ultranationalist Nationalist Action Party (MHP) resigned from the party’s National Executive Committee after an internet website began broadcasting secretly-recorded videos of them engaging in extramarital sexual relations. Over the previous month, four other leading members of the MHP had been forced to resign after similar secretly-recorded videos were posted on the same internet website. The identity of those responsible for recording and broadcasting the videos currently remains unclear. However, opposition parties have accused supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), whose campaign for the June 12 general election has been largely based on trying to prevent the MHP from gaining enough votes to cross the 10 percent threshold for representation in parliament.
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.