Last night’s vote was the biggest success for the left in 35 yearsby David Barchard / June 8, 2015 / Leave a comment
The first thing to say about yesterday’s Turkish election has to be that Turks count votes much more quickly than Britons or Americans. “This seems to be the only thing that happens quickly in Turkey,” a Turkish-American friend joked. In less than five hours, 47m votes, a turn out of over 80 per cent, were counted in a mountainous country nearly 1,100 miles long, something which is surely remarkable.
A second feature worth noting is that, everyone I spoke to in a small, conservative central Anatolian town said they had voted against the ruling AK Party, even if their choice of party differed. The tide of public opinion seemed clear and overwhelming, just as it did for Turgut Özal in 1983. And yet this is not quite the picture that actually emerged from the count here.
The AKP won 40.9 per cent of the vote, or 258 seats. This was in the median range of the poll predictions, but represented a drop of nearly 9 per cent in its support since 2011. Thanks to Turkey’s system of proportional representation, the AKP got a lower proportion of seats in parliament than had generally been expected—about 46 per cent of the seats for two fifths of the vote. In theory it ought to be able to form a temporary minority government if one or more opposition parties abstained. But as yet this looks rather unlikely.
The CHP (the centre-left Republican People’s Party) took 25.1 per cent of the votes and 131 seats in parliament. This is more or less exactly what it achieved in Turkey’s last general elections in 2011. This time its vote dropped sharply in Istanbul, where it lost support to the HDP among Kurds and intellectuals. Turkey’s second party has waited six decades for a breakthrough, which looks as far away as ever. It continues to command intense loyalty in the secularly-minded of provinces of western Turkey, but lacks a correspondingly strong national appeal. Lagging 16 per cent behind the AKP, as it did, would normally count as a electoral rout.
The MHP (National Action Party) gained 16 per cent of the vote and 80…