With two weeks remaining until the elections, the “razor’s edge” state of the votes is unchanged.
The latest survey by Ankara-based MetroPOLL issued some days ago indicates a slight fall in support for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), pushing it below the 10 percent barrier.
Its data is the following:
Justice and Development Party (AKP) 42.8 percent, Republican People’s Party (CHP) 27 percent, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) 17.1 percent and HDP 9.2 percent. (A later follow-up by the same pollster, yet to be published, is reported to show a rise only in mainly Kurdish provinces in southeast Anatolia.)
The two other pollsters I talked to — on the condition of anonymity because they are still finalizing the data — only slightly disagree with MetroPOLL, reporting a very critical but weak upsurge for the HDP, placing it between 10.2 and 10.5 percent.
Let’s continue to analyze trends and consequences. But first, let’s have a look at the blog of Yüksel Sezgin — an assistant professor of political science at Syracuse University — posted by The Washington Post.
Sezgin argues that the result may be the beginning of the end for the dreams and rule of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan:
“In the 2002, 2007 and 2011 parliamentary elections the AKP won 363, 341 and 326 seats, respectively; it has never commanded a 400-seat strong majority, even under Erdoğan’s premiership. In order for AKP to gain 400 seats, it has to win about 60 percent of the popular vote. Considering that in the 2014 local elections the party gained only 46 percent of the popular vote, the goal Erdoğan has set for himself and his hand-picked successor, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, is not a realistic one.”
“Moreover, it is unlikely that AKP will be able to win even 330 seats (3/5 majority) in the parliament – the minimum number of seats required to take the proposed constitutional changes to a referendum.”
“In the 2014 local elections, AKP won 46 percent of the popular vote, while CHP won 28 percent and MHP won 15 percent. If HDP clears the 10 percent threshold on June 7 while AKP, CHP and MHP maintain their shares of the vote, the AKP will control approximately 286 seats. Although this would allow the AKP government to remain in power for another term – it takes 276 seats to form a government – it will fall short of Erdoğan’s 400-seat supermajority and be a major roadblock for implementing a presidential system of government.”
“In brief, while the voter confidence in AKP’s ability to govern is in steady decline, the electorate’s confidence in the competence and ability of the opposition parties to solve Turkey’s problems has significantly increased in comparison to the previous eight years.”
Sezgin concludes his column with the following:
“Given the public skepticism toward presidentialism and the idea of a new constitution unilaterally imposed by a single party (e.g., the AKP), it is likely that Turkey will continue to remain a parliamentary democracy for the foreseeable future. This will, however, deepen the current governance crisis by worsening the existing principal-agent problems and fuel internal tensions within the AKP that may eventually bring about a split within the ruling party.”
While I agree with much of Sezgin’s comments about the past elections and the voter trends bending in favor of the opposition, I am more skeptical regarding the future of “parliamentary democracy” after June 7.
My skepticism is based on the possible stabilization of the vote in such a way that it keeps the HDP in limbo, exposing its gamble of joining the race as a party and not with “independent” candidates.
My profound concern is — and this is about the massive jeopardy “parliamentary democracy” is in — that the margins of “swing voters” may have been narrowing sharply in such a way that expected tactical voting shifting from the CHP to the HDP may fail after all.
I asked Professor Seyfettin Gürsel to simulate the MetroPOLL data. How will the HDP voter base react if it loses parliamentary representation by less than a percentage point, bringing the number of AKP seats to 320 and thus closer the “constitutional referendum majority” of 330 seats?
Would such an outcome that leaves the HDP out (and I still remain unconvinced that this will not happen) mean an end to Erdoğan’s dream of a full-scale “power grab”?
In such a likely case, any Kurdish unrest would create the options of “buying out” enough MHP deputies to join the ranks of the AKP, paving the way for a referendum on a presidential system — or early polls, again with the presidential system on the agenda.
Take it for granted that Erdoğan will make use of the best out of these options.