Opinion: Turkey′s furious election scramble | Opinion | DW | 23.08.2015
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Opinion

Opinion: Turkey's furious election scramble

Turkey's president has called snap elections for November 1 after talks to form a coalition government failed. But, that is exactly what the president wants, says Seda Serdar.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan did what he promised. He didn't give the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) any chance to form a government. By doing so, he became the first president in Turkish history not to grant the party with the second largest vote count a chance to set up a working coalition.

His argument sheds light on how he sees politics in Turkey.

Erdogan saw no other suitable coalition option because the efforts of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) didn't bear fruit. This once again shows that the president (who, according to the constitution should be above all parties) is not willing to accept a government without the AKP.

A national ballot on November 1 is what Erdogan desires. He made that clear by not even waiting for the official deadline to expire. November probably brings back memories of the AKP's glory days in 2002 when they won the elections by a landslide.

Seda Serdar Kommentarbild App

Seda Serdar heads the DW Turkish desk

However, the Turkey of the past is much different than present-day Turkey. In 2002, Turkey had lost six security officials due to attacks by the banned Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK). Just this week, Turkey lost nine people in one day, not to mention other victims of terrorist attacks on an almost a daily basis since mid-July. In 2002, the world was dealing with Al-Qaeda and there were some Turks that sympathized and joined this terror group. However, the growing number of Turks and other foreign fighters who are joining 'Islamic State' today is alarming and not disconnected from current Turkish politics.

Conflicting results

Even though the AKP is hoping that Turkey's main pro-Kurdish political force, the People's Democratic Party (HDP), will lose votes due to the growing number of terror attacks launched by the PKK, it is highly possible that voters will hold the government responsible for not providing peace and order, especially in eastern Turkey.

Political instability and the terror attacks have not only added to the polarization of the public, but have also influenced the Turkish economy, and this could also backfire on the AKP's election plans. Recent polls show that the AKP won't have enough votes to become the sole ruling party and that the HDP could end up becoming the third strongest force in parliament, pushing the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to fourth place.

At the same time, other polls indicate that the AKP will emerge from the ballot as the strongest faction with a majority. It is interesting to observe that such different polls exist in the Turkish media as the country heads for early elections. This suggests that certain parties are trying to influence the public ahead of this critical vote.

New game in town

In the meantime, the AKP is looking at "outsourcing" the votes it lost to the HDP. Recently an AKP official stated that the Turkish parliament needs representatives of Turks living outside of Turkey. The goal is to make sure they are represented within the parliament and that their concerns are heard.

According to the Turkish constitution, even if the AKP decides to create space for 15 new representatives, while staying loyal to the 550 members of parliament, it still cannot apply this change to the upcoming elections.

Constitutional law experts confirm this fact. However, this doesn't mean that Erdogan won't try to attract more involvement from Turks living abroad. This puts Germany in the spotlight, since a significant number of Turkish votes outside of the country come from Germany.

On the other hand, HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas' recent visit to Stockholm shows that he's also working to protect his Kurdish votes. It seems that in this election season Turkey won't be the only battlefield. So it won't be a big surprise if the Turkish election campaign spills over into Germany and other European countries; after all, the election is becoming a race for political survival, especially for Erdogan.

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