What now for Turkey after Erdoğan's win?

29 Jun 2018

The result of the snap election in Turkey last week leaves the political future of the country uncertain. Will President Erdoğan see out his final year as President before his first term finishes, or will he be brought down by his growing political opponents?


The constitution in Turkey states that a president can only serve one renewable five-year term, giving Erdoğan a potential total of ten years in power. But that is only if the president’s parliamentary party is secure.


Before the snap election, exit polls showed that the President and his AK party had won a handsome victory, winning 53% of the vote, with the main opposition party, CHP, led by Muharrem Ince, winning 31%. There is a third party in this election – the pro-Kurdish HDP secured the 10% threshold necessary to enter parliament. This makes life more difficult for Erdoğan.


By the time the results came through, it transpired that the HDP had done better than expected, winning 11% of the vote and thus depriving Erdoğan of his parliamentary majority, winning just 299 of the 600 seats available. The MHP, a nationalist party, is keeping them afloat in an unofficial coalition. The HDP, meanwhile, will have 67 seats in the upcoming parliamentary session, posing as a considerable nuisance to the president.


However, Erdoğan appears to be in a strong position. As the BBC reported, the Turkish electoral commission is investigating voting irregularities in a province which borders Syria. If irregularities have occurred, then there will need to be a national recount, although it is not likely to change the outcome. Nor will there likely be a presidential run-off, previously planned for 8 July, as Erdoğan has passed the 50% threshold necessary for an outright win.


It is now almost two years since the failed coup against Erdoğan's regime. It began in Istanbul and spread to the capital, Ankara, resulting in gunfire and explosions in many major population centres. Several members of the president’s staff were kidnapped, and pro-government television stations were stormed, yet the military soon brought the insurrection under control.


Erdoğan later sacked many journalists, teachers and members of the military, believing they were responsible for the plots against him. A year previously, he had won a referendum which had given him a tighter grip on the country, with new powers due to come into effect after this year’s general election. With the election won, he now has these powers, despite being in coalition.


It is difficult to speculate the extent to which his opponents will manage to curtail his powers as president. Deals will need to be struck and opponents appeased, and if the opposition is organised enough, he may not survive to enjoy a full second term. Although there remain vestiges of democratic checks against him, Erdoğan acts increasingly like a dictator struggling to break free of opposition.  

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