The Daily Beast reports: Recep Tayyip Erdogan bent the constitution and election rules in a drive to become the all-powerful leader of this strategically important NATO country. But in parliamentary election on Sunday, Erdogan saw his high hopes come crashing down to earth as voters dealt him the first national defeat of his career.
Erdogan critics said the vote was a watershed moment for Turkey as the country spoke out against a leader who wanted all power for himself.
“The era of Erdogan is over,” declared historian Ahmet Insel.
Going into Sunday’s poll, Erdogan had called on voters to give his ruling party AKP at least 330 deputies in parliament in order to change the constitution and introduce a presidential system with him at the helm. As Erdogan’s plan did not include checks and balances to limit executive power, the opposition called the move a dictatorial power grab—and voters agreed. Not only did the AKP fail to reach the 330 deputies demanded by Erdogan, it lost so many votes on Sunday that it dropped down to 256 lawmakers; at least 276 are needed to form a majority government. “AKP government is history, Super President is history,” tweeted journalist Yusuf Kanli. [Continue reading…]
The Washington Post reports: The deciding factor in this election was the emergence of the People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, which came in fourth with 12 percent of the vote. For a political party to enter Turkey’s parliament, it has to pass a threshold of 10 percent of the total vote. The HDP did so and will command an estimated 78 seats in the 550-seat legislature, mostly won at the expense of the AKP.
It was a remarkable achievement for a party that was formed less than three years ago and has direct ties to the violent three-
decade Kurdish separatist insurgency in Turkey’s southeast. The war between the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and the Turkish state has claimed 40,000 lives since it first flared in the early 1980s.
“From now on, HDP is Turkey’s party. HDP is Turkey, Turkey is HDP,” the party’s leader, Selahattin Demirtas, said Sunday evening at a news conference in Istanbul.
The party framed itself as a leftist movement for all Turks and boasted a diverse slate of parliamentary candidates, including representatives of virtually all of Turkey’s major ethnic groups, a large number of women and the nation’s first openly gay candidate. [Continue reading…]
Alev Scott writes: Turkey fulfilled the legacy of Gezi Park yesterday. What protesters could not accomplish two years ago has now been achieved. Such a resounding vote for change – for the first time in 13 years – means the ludicrously named Justice and Development party (AKP) has lost its majority. Nobody expected this. As the votes came in last night and the opposition’s amazed celebrations began, no one partied harder than supporters of the minority rights-focused Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP), which blossomed out of the Gezi movement, and whose success in the face of intimidating odds proved the key to the AKP’s undoing.
There are now serious questions to be asked about Turkey’s political future in the wake of this extreme transformation, but on waking up this morning my overriding urge was to sing “Ding dong, the witch is dead!” and dance like a liberated Munchkin. Of course I’m talking about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who failed to surface yesterday evening after his ambitions for an executive presidency had been crushed with satisfying finality – and about whom I would never have written such blasphemous sentiments if his party still retained a majority.
Being a writer in Turkey in recent years has meant self-censoring while admiring those braver than you – such as the journalist Can Dündar, who was sued last week by Erdoğan and now faces two life sentences for a “treasonous” news story. It has meant clothing your criticism in feeble witticisms and slightly despising yourself for scattering the word “alleged” into perfectly obvious accounts of government corruption. [Continue reading…]