Nail-biting election race: HDP’s apparent gamble is Turkey’s nightmare

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”?

Not necessarily.

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.

About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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1 Response to Nail-biting election race: HDP’s apparent gamble is Turkey’s nightmare

  1. nervana111 says:

    Reblogged this on Nervana and commented:
    If you are following the Turkish election, then then read this piece.

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