Turkish Flag - YouTube

Turkish Elections

The stakes for Turkey are high in the upcoming elections.

“Turkish Elections: Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t”

Turkey will be going to the polls this weekend after a previous election earlier this year resulted in a hung parliament. The stakes are high for Turkey as the ruling Islamist Party, AKP, under the leadership of President Erdogan is fighting to stay in power and avoid corruption charges. Erdogan dominates Turkish politics despite holding the purely ceremonial office of the Presidency. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu served as his Foreign Minister when Erdogan was Prime Minister of Turkey from 2003 – 2014. Davutoglu is widely seen as an Erdogan loyalist.

Who are the parties (acronyms, acronyms, acronyms)?

  • AKP: The ruling Islamist party. They are accused of autocratic tendencies, slowly introducing religion to the secular Turkish state, corruption and starting a civil war with the Kurds.
  • CHP: The largest opposition party in Turkey. Committed to the secular tradition of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Modern Turkey. Accused of being out of touch with the pious electorate in rural Anatolia.
  • MHP: A far-right, ultra-nationalist party. They are accused of, well, being far-right.
  • HDP: The wild card of the election. This Kurdish party represents the Kurdish minority in Eastern Anatolia. If they get 10% of the vote then they enter Parliament, which ensures that AKP does not get a parliamentary majority.
  • Gülen Movement (aka Hizmet): Not exactly a political party in the traditional sense but still a powerful political force in the country. Led by Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim preacher who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, they are a social “movement” in Turkey and Central Asia. They used to be close allies with Erdogan but had a falling out in December 2013.

What’s at stake?

  • Economy: It’s been in a dire state with the Turkish lira down and growth stalling.
  • Syria: The ongoing civil war is starting to spill-over into Turkey with the country hosting nearly two million refugees. ISIS has also used the chaos to expand its presence in the country, allegedly carrying out a bombing in Ankara earlier this month killed at least 100.
  • Kurds: A long-standing conflict with Kurdish separatist group, PKK, has flared up recently leaving over 150 dead. Turkey has also started attacking the Kurds in Syria (who are US allies) in a bid to stop them from declaring their own state.
  • Corruption: A corruption inquiry into Erdogan and his inner circle (including his son) was shut down in January 2014. Erdogan is worried that if he loses power he will be tried.
  • Constitution: Erdogan hopes to officially change the constitution to make Turkey a presidential system of government (it is currently a parliamentary one). He needs a two-thirds majority to do that.
Whichever way you slice it, the stakes are high for Turkey. If the AKP get their majority then Turkey risks a more authoritarian government. If they lose, then no coalition might be able to govern the country. The outcome will affect NATO (of which Turkey is a member), Europe (which relies on Turkey to stem the refugee flow) and everyone involved in the Syrian Civil War. It is going to be a tense weekend.

Yes, I want to sound marginally more intelligent: