Turkey faces a snap election on November 1st, just months after its last election. The elections of June 7th bore great significance as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority owed to the success of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) that saw a Kurdish political party comfortably pass the 10% election threshold for the first time with 13% of the vote.
The first elections were symbolized by fierce rhetoric between HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. And the stage is set for a similar showdown ahead of the snap elections.
A few months may have passed since June but a lot has happened in this short time. The failure to form a coalition with either Republican People’s Party (CHP) or Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) was worsened as the wounds of war were re-opened with Erdogan declaring war on the Islamic State (IS) and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), with the PKK taking by far the brunt of air strikes.
By re-opening the conflict with the PKK and effectively ending the peace process after relative calm since 2012, Turkey entered a dangerous phase.
For many critics, the PKK conflict was orchestrated with snap elections in mind, echoing concerns that coalition talks were always designed to fail.
Erdogan and the AKP have eyes firmly on a re-shot at gaining a parliamentary majority. Attacks on the PKK which have resulted in the death of dozens of security forces in return, may net nationalist votes which were unease over the Kurdish peace process but this further entrenches the Kurdish voter camp with the HDP.
It is not clear how many nationalist and conservative votes the AKP could really grab from MHP or the CHP or if the MHP or CHP would in fact be real benefactors in any nationalist swing. The election re-run introduces more questions than answers. The AKP may increase its voter base but ultimately the HDP is unlikely to drop below the 10% threshold that the AKP desperately needs to form a majority government.
With the renewal of the PKK conflict, this put the HDP in a difficult corner. Erdogan has persistently tried to tie the PKK noose around the HDP. At the same time, the pro-Kurdish party has felt compelled to protect Kurdish interests and condemn government actions.
Erdogan has insisted that the November election is about choosing between “stability and chaos” – Turkey is certainly in a phase of chaos with two new fronts against IS and the PKK, failure to form a coalition government for first time in its history and not forgetting the economic alarm bells that will ring louder in the event of more upheaval.
The question that the electoral will have to ultimately decide is whether this chaos has been fermented by Erdogan.
In an ironic twist, the CHP and the MHP refused to take part in the first interim government in Turkey’s history, but the HDP accepted 2 seats, meaning the AKP was effectively in short-term coalition with the HDP and numerous other independents.
This scenario is hardly a coincidence but a ploy by the MHP and particularly the CHP who were incensed at not been given the opportunity to form a coalition, to put the AKP in an awkward position of a de-facto coalition with the HDP.
Come November, Turkey will be in a similar positon of having to form a coalition government. This time negotiations and terms will be even more painstaking and the AKP will be in a more difficult corner if it fails to achieve the majority that it craves with the war on PKK and IS festering long beyond the elections.
First Published: Kurdish Globe
Other Publication Sources: Various Misc