Washington, D.C. — In a surprise reversal of the recent parliamentary elections in June, the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has won back an outright majority in the Turkish parliament in snap elections held Sunday, November 1. The Center for American Progress has released a column analyzing the stark turnaround in Turkish politics and the divisive tactics used by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP party to secure an electoral win.
Drawing support from Turkey’s working class and religious conservatives, the AKP won 49.4 percent of the vote, yielding a likely 316 seats in parliament. Just five months ago, the AKP lost its majority after gains by opposition parties, including the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, in what seemed a stunning reversal for President Erdoğan’s ambitions. However, the divided parliament was unable to form a coalition government, and President Erdoğan maneuvered the country to snap elections in the hopes of returning to single-party AKP rule. After a divisive campaign conducted amid a government crackdown on political opposition and the press and violence in the Kurdish southeast, Erdoğan and the AKP have secured their hold for another four-year term.
“The surprise result this weekend has vindicated President Erdoğan’s strategy of pivoting to the nationalist right, raising security fears, vilifying political critics, and controlling the media,” said CAP Senior Fellow Michael Werz. “It remains to be seen whether Erdoğan and the AKP will seek to ease tensions in a polarized nation facing an economic slowdown or continue to attack media critics and Kurdish political opponents in an effort to solidify their hold on the nationalist right.”
Despite the hard-right turn in this week’s election, there is little expectation that much will change with the Turkish-U.S. relationship. While the Obama administration has repeatedly expressed concern over Erdoğan’s political tactics and anti-Western rhetoric, the government has been unwilling to elevate the issue further and risk Turkey’s cooperation in combatting the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham or caring for refugees from the Syrian war.
Click here to read the column.
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