from From the Potomac to the Euphrates and Middle East Program

What Turkey’s Election Surprise Says About The Troubled Country

November 3, 2015

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This article originally appeared here on Fortune.com on Monday, November 2, 2015.

Just five months after failing to secure a parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002, Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) came roaring back on Sunday with 49.4% of the popular vote and a renewed mandate to govern without any coalition partners. Going into the elections, all the polling indicated that the AKP would garner about 40% of the vote, which would force it to seek coalition partners to form a government. This was precisely the outcome of the June elections, after which the inability of the AKP and Turkey’s other main parties to agree on a government produced a “hung parliament” and Sunday’s re-run elections. There are already questions about the AKP’s turnaround, improving almost ten percentage points in an environment where the country is once again at war with the terrorists of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), where the self-declared Islamic State has perpetrated horrific bombings taking the lives of 134 Turks since July, and where the economy has been on the slide. Opponents of the AKP and critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who sabotaged coalition talks in June because he did not like the election results, suspect the outcome was manipulated. Erdogan and AKP party officials insist that voters opted for stability during increasingly uncertain times. Regardless, neither Erdogan nor the AKP have answers for the multiple crises buffeting the country.

The most obvious and pressing problem for the new Turkish government is security. For the better part of the last 18 months, Turkey avoided direct confrontation with the Islamic State, fearing retaliation on the streets of Turkish cities.

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