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Vote 2007: The fall of the Turkish left

Some final thoughts at the end of election night 2007

Some final thoughts at the end of election night 2007

As things stand, tonight is looking like a better result for Turkey than 2002. The AK’s mandate is greater, but their power has been curbed. A third party is guaranteed to enter parliament (MHP) and a fourth is set to appear (DTP), which means more Turks have their votes represented. And the CHP might just be forced into badly-needed reorganistion.

An analyst on NTV has just declared Turkey to be “the only major European country not to have a significant political force on the left wing”. Now at 9pm, with just about four-fifths of the votes counted, it looks like an accurrate assessment.

The CHP is set to win around 20 percent of the vote, give or take a couple of percent. As is stands, it is a slight improvement on their position of 2002, when they received 19 percent. But the AK’s increased majority and the MHP’s entry into parliament means that the CHP are to lose a drastic number of seats – the latest NTV projection gives them 110 seats, a loss of 68. And let us not forget that the CHP’s seat tally includes that of the Democratic Left Party, which has said it would break away to form its own group after the elections. In short, it is difficult not to call the CHP the big losers in this election.

My ideal presidential candidate, Hikmet Çetin, is also on NTV. He has interpreted the result as “a lack of achievement for the opposition, rather than an accomplishment for the AKP”.

The MHP have been remarkably successful. It is no small feat to double your vote of five years ago, when Devlet Bahçeli’s party won just 8.34 percent. It seems unlikely that they will reach their historical high of nearly 18 percent, set in 1999, but they are forecast to win around seventy seats.

Another point to note are those independent MP candidates supported by the DTP. Private television stations here are projecting 23 DTP independents will be entering parliament, which would be enough for them to form a parliamentary group. The electoral system does make it rather difficult, however, to predict the share of the vote for specific independent candidates, so these might be the last results we receive.

In all of this, however, what has not been mentioned is the AK party, and the sheer size of their victory. AK’s share of the vote has increased by as much as 13 percent, which is nearly a third. They have already become the only governing party in half a century to increase its share of the vote. The MHP’s arrival means that AK are in the awkward position of losing seats despite its increased majority, but this should be no more than twenty seats.

I don’t think the magnitude of their can be exaggerated easily. Out of Turkey’s 81 provinces, AK is leading in 68 of them, and is second in twelve of them. Only in the eastern province of Tunceli, where independents are leading and the CHP is second, has the AK been pushed into third place. This demonstrates how much of a national party AK have become. As Mr Çetin pointed out on NTV, “only (AK leader) Erdoğan and (Democrat party leader) Ağar campaigned east of Sivas.” The CHP and MHP were conspicuously absent in the east.

Deniz Baykal must be a worried man.

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