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Élections générales en Turquie, 7 juin 2015

18 mai 2015

Une fois de plus, je reproduis un court résumé en anglais sur une élection à venir, que j’ai rédigé pour l’Atlas Forum. La discussion que j’ai lancée est consultable ici.

There is a general election in Turkey on June 7th, 2015.

They have a truly awful electoral system : 85 districts electing 2 to 31 members through D’Hondt PR. BUT, you have to get 10% of the vote nationally to be eligible to this way of repartition! AND if you fail to hit 10% nationally, even if you get 9.9%, all your votes get transferred to… the leading party nationally. -____- »

Though that looks bad, the 10% threshold actually has nothing to do with the AKP, being in place since 1983 and the first election following the 1980 Army coup. I guess it was put in place to stop fringe groups from taking too much traction in elections. I don’t know if the transfer of spoilt ballots to the winner dates back to that as well, or is an invention of the AKP.

Still, it seems independents are not subject to the 10% threshold and can win seats proportionally in their district, prompting a number of candidates, especially Kurdish ones in the South-East, to run that way, at least in previous elections.

Opposition parties are confronted with growing media bias and electoral fraud year after year.

A 10% threshold necessarily reduces the field, and we have four parties who can possibly make it.

AKP – Justice and Development Party

It’s Erdogan’s party, the growingly “natural” governing party of Turkey, ie. growingly doing what he can to secure its position. It originated in reformist Islamism, but has now abandoned the official reference, running on “conservative democracy”, which is telling… It’s a cronyist clientelistic party, verging on authoritarian. They have more than half municipalities, provinces, and seats in the Assembly. They aim at winning more than half the votes, and ideally (for them), more than 2/3 of seats (367/550), which would allow them to pass constitutional changes through Parliament. Failing that, they would settle for 3/5 (330/550), where they can put constitutional changes to a referendum.

CHP – Republican People’s Party

It’s the main vaguely centre-left opposition party to the AKP, heir to Mustafa Kemal’s party. It seems to have a hard time merging its social democratic, kemalist and republicanist traditions. They’re aiming to become the “reasonable” opposition, they would love to be coined as the democratic resistance to Erdogan’s authoritarianism by the Western media, but it’s more complicated. They perform best among upper middle class, ie. in the West and South-West coastal regions. They say they’re aiming at 35%, they would be ecstatic with 30%, they’re actually polling less.

MHP – Nationalist Movement Party

The nationalist far-right, linked to the “Grey Wolves” paramilitary group. They’re trying to wash themselves a bit from that tradition, but they’re still the option for nutjobs who find Erdogan too nice to Europe, Armenia, Kurds, or anything not 100% Turkish. They performed quite well in the 2014 local elections, garnering 17% of the vote. But in the presidential election later in 2014, they actually sought to nominate a joint candidate with… the CHP, to have a “broad-tent” opposition presidential candidate. They actually ended supporting CHP’s candidate. So it may be a bit trickier than just “far-right” here and “social democracy” there…

HDP – People’s Democratic Party

The HDP is a recent national outfit, designed to be able to run in all of Turkey. It originates on the one hand from the BDP, a Kurdish democratic socialist party, and on the other hand from the HDK, a coalition of various left-wing movements in the rest of Turkey. The merger of these results in a left-wing collegial organization comparable to Syriza or Podemos. It actually takes a very left-wing stance on a number of subjects. Keep in mind that Turkey, for all the misconceptions the media can convey, must be home to the greatest number of left-wing splinter parties in the whole world. They nominate women for half of their candidates, and 10% are LGBT candidates. They are a rising star in Turkish political life, having polled 6% in the local elections, mostly in the mainly Kurdish South-East, and having polled nearly 10% in the following presidential election, where their support expanded a bit geographically, mostly in cities (9% in Istanbul, 8% in Izmir, but 1% or 2% in most of the rural West). Kurdish candidates don’t have to run as independents to hope winning seats this time, they run for the HDP, but they also could lose all representation.

Opinion polling in Turkey is quite partisan, each poll is not particularly reliable in itself, but if you combine all of them you actually get a pretty decent picture. Current polling has :

AKP 44%
CHP 26%
MHP 16%
HDP 10%

The main question mark is therefore whether HDP will make it to the threshold. If so, AKP’s life could be a bit more complicated. If not, that’s 9% lost votes automatically granted to them, and they should win big.

I made this summary not being a particular expert in Turkish politics, though not completely ignorant of them either, so feel free to complete or correct.

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