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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  1. I think, Baykal should now show the maturity that DSP leader Sezer showed before the election, and open the chairmanship of this grand old party to new people.

  2. An excellent result. Enough of a slap in the face to the elite to carry weight, but not enough to provoke a coup (we hope!).

  3. Hi BT. It is striking to me how an oh-so-inconceivable coup became conceivable in five-ten year’s time. Don’t you think?

    I don’t feel as good about this result as you do though. It is now imperative that Erdogan strikes and sustains a conciliatory centrist tone. Stronger the mandate, higher the stakes in other words. If the victor was an ostensibly “system” party, there wouldn’t be as big a problem, but… By the way, have we had a coup provoked solely by the results of a particular election? I think not. In the absence of an effective and functioning opposition, I’d fear the Asker Partisi, which everybody knows is not oblivious to public opinion but is also capable of manipulating it. In my opinion, first thing to watch out for would be Northern Iraq developments and the stance of independent Kurdish MPs.

  4. Almost evrey other person voted for them. Stunning. I want to take a photo of Erdogan’s with shades and plaster all over this poster.

    Other than, I can’t think of anything intelligent or relevant to add.

  5. Comme toujours dans les pays musulmans, les islamistes l’emportent et pourront annuler les avancées laiques. Quel gachis….

  6. Parliament meets in 12 days. The Kurdish independents will not wait long before then to rejoin the DTP.

    My limited French (and a little bit of Google) tells me that the above means “As always in the Muslem countries, the islamist ones carry it and will be able to cancel the laic projections. What a waste…”

    I’m not sure that’s entirely fair, simply because I think this election has shown the AK party is much less Islamist and much more centrist. This could make the topic of an interesting discussion, I might write about it soon.

  7. For me, excellent means going with Fabian speed in the right direction.

    I can not imagine a better result. It shows the muslim world that it might be possible for Islam and secularism to co-exist, and so strengthen politically moderate strands there.

    It will help the nationalists (CHP/MHP) actually realise they are the soft and hard wings of the same party and that slaughters in the 70s are not sufficient to base a pretended difference on. They will realise that their difference is purely one of style, not substance. This will all help the salient elements of Turkish politics get thrown into sharper relief, becoming, well, more salient.

    Maybe the CHP and the MHP will merge. If so, then the enormous vacuum on the left in Turkish politics might get filled by some new force. Maybe that more thuggish CHP’ers will move parties, leaving a social democratic rump.

    Maybe (and I am getting into even wilder fantasy here) the generals will accept that diversity (“ne mozaik, lan!”) is a strength and that parties representing minorities are not necessarily separatist, that talking to people is often more effective than shooting them, that “jump!” and “How high?” is not the only exchange possible between a government and its people.

    Speculation is fun.

  8. “Deniz Baykal must be a worried man.”

    Jesus Christ! He is an incredible man. He is there to stay at the helm, apparently believing there is an important duty assigned to him by the electorate (check out F. Bila and D. Sazak’s 7/24 columns in Milliyet; apparently he received calls from such luminaries as S. Demirel advising hims to stay where he is). I said this elsewhere, too, but I’ll repeat. If I were an elected CHP MP, I would leave his party and join the DSP group right away. I can’t imagine that Baykal actually comprehends the situation. He helped set the bar so high for himself, now refuses to acknowledge the failure.

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