Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Turkey Election – Autocrat Loses Ground

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
In a warning to aspiring autocrats, people can say no more.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after more than a decade of election victories for his conservative Islamic Party (AKP), lost his parliamentary majority in a weekend election (June 7, 2015). Massive turnout (86%) said no to his personal ambition to fuse his mostly ceremonial position as president with the powers of the prime minister.

Also, for the first time in history, a Kurdish liberal party won a position in parliament.

Polls have a ten day pre-election blackout in Turkey, but they correctly predicted the President’s party would receive votes in the low 40 percent range and the new leftwing – Kurdish party would win at least 10 percent to gain entry into parliament.

Along with consolidating his power using repression against competitors, critics and the media, and unfair campaign activities, he regularly calls his opponents traitors and misfits. But more important than Erdogan’s increasingly aggressive and boorish temperament was his challenge to Turkish civic values concerning democracy. His use of a presidency, which is mostly seen as a ceremonial position, to dominate the government and the campaign finally produced a backlash.

There were a myriad of issues joining the President’s political ambition and behavior, including the economy, dealing with Syria, Kurdish separatists and women’s and workers’ rights. But the results were a sharp rebuke to “‘the increasing Putinization’ of Turkey’s political system.” (WSJ, 6-9-15)

See New York Times: Erdogan’s Governing Party in Turkey Loses Parliamentary Majority

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