Turkey returns to the polls for the second time this year
Turkey is going to the polls today for the second time this year. The last election was on 7th June and for the first time since 3rd November 2002 the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its majority. Four parties were elected to the 550 seat Grand National Assembly but the differences between each of them prevented a coalition government being formed.
The centre-right and increasingly Islamist AKP is run by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He was previously the prime minister but, having served the three terms his party allows he decided to become president and then change the rules to make the presidency an executive post instead of its current titular role. In recent years he has been perceived as being increasingly autocratic and in June the people decided that enough was enough.
Because of the high threshold for parliamentary representation, parties need at least 10% of the vote to get into parliament; the AKP has historically picked up seats that might otherwise have gone to smaller parties. But in June the Kurds, who had previously stood as independents (as an independent the 10% threshold doesn’t come into play) decided to put their support behind the pro-Kurdish and left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP). It worked and the HDP took 13.12% of the vote and 80 seats, thus denying the AKP a majority.
The other two parties are the secular and centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the nationalist far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The number of eligible voters in Turkey today has increased by 310,620 since June to 54,052,503 in this election. Sixteen political parties and 8,426 candidates are standing in this election down from the 20 parties and 9,271 candidates on 7th June. There are 85 constituencies across the 81 provinces.
There are 175,006 Ballot Box Committees (roughly equivalent to a polling station) covered by 1,436 District Electoral Boards. Polling stations will be open between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. local time, although anyone queuing at 5 p.m. will be allowed to vote. In early voting 2,895,885 expats were entitled to vote between 8th and 25th October across 113 polling stations in 54 countries. The elections commission reports that turnout was 45%.
In the June election four parties won seats as follows:
Justice and Development Party (AKP); 40.87%, 258 seats down 53 seats
Republican People’s Party (CHP); 24.95%, 132 seats up seven seats
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP); 16.29%, 80 seats up 28 seats
People’s Democratic Party (HDP); 13.12%, 80 seats effectively up 51 seats since previously pro-Kurdish candidates stood as independents.
According to the Anadolu Agency the other parties who are standing today but are not expected to win any seats are the Independent Turkey Party; the Grand Unity Party; the Democratic Party; the Democratic Left Party; the Communist Party; the Nation Party; the Felicity Party; the Patriotic Party; the People’s Liberation Party; the Rights and Liberties Party; the True Path Party; and the Liberal Democratic Party.
The most recent polls suggest that not a great deal has changed since June. The Konda and Gezici polling agencies give the following figures respectively:
AKP; 40.9% and 41.3%
CHP; 30.4% and 27%
MHP; 14.3% and 15.6%
HDP; 11.8% and 12.5%
If these figures are accurate then the Republican People’s Party (CHP) is on course to improve its position whilst the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will drop back a little.
In the June poll the opinion polls underestimated the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) support by several percentage points and this might have happened again.
The ruling (before 7th June) Justice and Development Party don’t appear to have improved their position. However, much will rest on 39 constituencies where a small change of between 0.1% and 3% could change things dramatically (according to a report in Today’s Zaman on 26th October).