Turkey holds a general election Sunday, with voters going to the polls for the second time in six months as political uncertainty rattles the economy and the NATO member faces mounting security threats.
Q: What was the result of the election in June?
A: Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its 13-year ruling majority in parliament, as the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) entered parliament for the first time by doubling its votes. The outcome forced the first coalition talks since Turkey’s 1999 elections, and curbed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s push to transfer executive powers from parliament to his mostly ceremonial office.
Q: How did these elections come about?
A: Mr. Erdogan refused to allow opposition lawmakers to try and establish a minority or coalition government, as he became the first Turkish president to call snap polls. The president says he moved to prevent instability. But opposition parties have accused Mr. Erdogan of derailing coalition talks in a bid to restore his allies in the AKP to power. Mr. Erdogan co-founded and led the AKP for 12 years as premier until his election to the non-partisan presidency in August 2014, and the party’s setback in the June poll curbed his ability to control the government and influence parliament.
Q: What has happened over the last six months?
A: The lira dropped to record lows and economic confidence slumped amid the political uncertainty, as Turkey has been gripped by escalating violence. Two attacks Turkish authorities blamed on Islamic State killed at least 135 people in Suruc and the capital Ankara. Meanwhile, a two-year truce with the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) collapsed, with hundreds of civilians, security officials and Kurdish militants dying in the renewed conflict. The interim government launched a two-front war on Islamic State and the PKK, both of which are terrorist-designated groups by Turkey and its NATO allies.
Q: What was the political reaction to the developments?
A: Opposition parties accused the government and Mr. Erdogan of warmongering to boost the AKP’s support ahead of snap polls by using security concerns to rally nationalist votes. Both the government and Mr. Erdogan have hit back by accusing the pro-Kurdish party of supporting PKK terrorism, and other opposition parties of using the turmoil for political gain.
Q: How will the developments affect voting patterns?
A: Public opinion polls show that the mounting security risks and deteriorating economy have done little to shift voter preferences. According to polls, Mr. Davutoglu has increased his support by one percentage point to 42%, compared with June. This would still leave it short of a ruling majority. The secularist CHP may boost its share of the vote to 27% from 25%, while nationalists and pro-Kurdish lawmakers could lose some ground but jointly keep about a quarter of the seats in parliament.
Unless Mr. Davutoglu clinches a surprise victory that gives him a governing majority, the premier will once again lead government-formation talks with his political rivals. The chances of a “grand coalition” between the premier’s AKP and the main-opposition CHP seem stronger this time around. But, as in June, Mr. Erdogan will hold the wildcard, and could drag the country to yet another snap poll.
Source: Wall Street Journal