Turkey elections: So Erdogan and AKP won. But can they also deliver?

AKP won the election in Turkey and it is widely perceived as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s victory. But what people of Turkey expect now from Erdogan, AKP? And can they deliver? Read few comments.

Michael Wuthrich, Visiting Assistant Professor, Academic Director of the GIST BA & MA Programs, Center for Global & International Studies, University of Kansas

People in Turkey in general hold a very negative view of coalitions as they see them as inefficient and destabilizing. In a period of domestic polarization, violence and regional instability, it appears that a bloc of conservative voters, Turkish and Kurdish, returned or shifted their votes to the AKP. The, perhaps, principled but unyielding stance of the right Turkish nationalist Nationalist Action Party (MHP), drove about 2 million voters from that camp over to the AKP. The voters supporting the MHP were most sympathetic to working with the AKP, so this vote shift was reasonably anticipated, and the reason for support was most certainly to establish a stable one-party government.

The one million votes that could be seen as transferring to the AKP from the leftist Kurdish nationalist party (HDP) was more unexpected prior to the election. While it was possible to anticipate that a smaller number of Turkish liberal leftists would return their votes to the main opposition party, the center-left CHP, the large transfer of Kurdish support to the AKP was a surprise. The leftist HDP had accumulated a high number of votes from conservative Kurds who were enthusiastic about the peace process and greater representation by Kurds though these voters had tended to vote for conservative parties on the right in the past, including the AKP. The return of votes suggest a gamble that a stable AKP will reinitiate the peace process with the PKK–the conflict with which has been devastating in every way to the Kurdish populations in the Southeast–and may have been a bit of a withdrawal of confidence from the HDP and what may have been perceived as behaviors by the party that could scuttle the advancement of the peace process in the country and destabilize the region.

If you consider that the big increase in votes for the AKP came from Turkish nationalists and conservative Kurdish nationalists, it is certain that someone will be disappointed, if not everyone. The AKP and Prime Minister Davutoglu signaled in the victory speech that the peace process would continue, but there will be a lot of obstacles, and their incoherent foreign policy approach toward Syria, the Islamic State, and the PYD-led Syrian Kurds is likely to cause them trouble with various groups in Turkey. Beyond the reasons why citizens cast their vote in favor of the AKP in this election, there are the questions regarding what Erdogan and Davutoglu’s  AKP have shown interest in doing with a return mandate to power, including writing a new constitution or making major revisions to increase Erdogan’s de jure presidential power. Most of the anxieties regarding a return to rule for the AKP revolve around the creeping degradation of the rule of law and the freedom and independence of the press. Considering the measures taken in the previous four years, it is hard to imagine that efforts to enmesh the party further into state organs will not continue with their renewed parliamentary majority.

Toni Alaranta, Senior Research Fellow, Finnish Institute of International Affairs

The voters who now mostly changed their preferences come mainly from the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), who saw AKP’s tough stance against the PKK as a good thing. On the other hand, some conservative Kurds also turned to AKP instead of Kurdish-focused HDP, because they were anxious about the increasing violence. In this sense the AKP’s (Erdogan’s) tactics of creating a “controlled chaos” was very successful. These voters now expect opposite things: the Turkish nationalists expect a firm stance against PKK, but the Kurds expect peace and returning to negotiations. One of the two will be disappointed.

The traditional AKP voters expect good economic development and the maintenance of their now privileged status in the society: the religious and conservative lifestyle is the new norm and these people want that to continue. They will be satisfied, because the AKP wants to establish an Islamic-conservative society that cannot be questioned from the liberal/secular position. Some section, might even be a significant portion, are also happy to see Erdogan being elevated to a super presidency – he will push this onwards in one way or another. Economy is on a shakier ground but not very bad.

Those who did not vote for the AKP are more frustrated than ever before. The stability is very artificial.

Barın Kayaoğlu, Independent Analyst and Consultant

Even more than Erdoğan, this is a victory for PM Davutoğlu. In the run-up to the election, he made sure that he and not RTE would be the face of the party. Furthermore, Davutoğlu’s more reconcilitory tone (compared to RTE’s) probably helped the party.

I am saying that because, according to these results (still technically unofficial), AKP won its greatest victory in a general election under Davutoğlu.

That result *might* help Davutoğlu wrest some control over the party and policy-making from RTE. But it might either. We’ll see.

What the people of TR expect from AKP, Davutoğlu, and Erdoğan, it is simply to govern and move the country forward. Grow the economy, create jobs, and stop the fighting with the PKK. Unfortunately, most people probably think that there is a military solution to the PKK / Kurdish problems so I’m not too hopeful on that front. Hope I’m wrong.

Now, I’m personally much more gloomy about the direction of Turkey. For example, I don’t agree with this idea that the people of Turkey “voted for stability.” AKP sowed the seeds of Turkey’s current mess not during the 5-month interlude but in the past 5-6 years. So my personal take is that things will not get better for Turkey in the next 4 years.

 

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