A difficult but promising new dawn for Turkey
Foreign investors are probably not pleased with the results of the elections. Judging by pre-election analyses, the best outcome for them was for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to lose and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to win. In other words their hope was that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would not get enough votes for Erdoğan to fulfill his ambition of changing the constitution to suit his needs, but would get enough votes to form a government on its own.
In their eyes, a victory for Erdoğan would have produced more instability in Turkey the same way that a defeat for Davutoğlu would. These elections did not produce a victory for Erdoğan but it did not produce a victory for Davutoğlu either.
Erdoğan supporters are trying, of course, to make a success story out of the results by arguing that the AKP came out the first party again. They will nevertheless have to accept now that democracy is more than just a ballot box victory, which means nothing if you don’t have enough support to form a government.
We now face a period of uncertainty with much jockeying expected over who will form the next government.
Wolfango Piccoli, the managing director of the global advisory firm Teneo Intelligence, argued that the outcome of the elections “is market negative, opening a new period of heightened political instability and uncertainty over economic policy.”
Normally such an assessment, which in this case is clearly correct, would be bad for a country. Everyone agrees a difficult period awaits Turkey, but this does not appear to be the immediate concern of those who did not vote for the AKP. Quite the opposite, there is a sense of relief among them.
Their main concern is that the dark clouds placed over the country by Erdoğan’s undemocratic ambitions will start to dissipate now. The results provide an opportunity to roll back all the negative aspects with regard to democracy introduced under AKP rule, and mainly those put in force while Erdoğan was still prime minister.
The results of the elections will also provide an opportunity to revive the investigation into corruption allegations against leading AKP figures, not to mention Erdoğan’s son. Parties opposed to the AKP may differ radically on a number of seminal issues, which will prevent them from forming a coalition government among themselves, but they are united in their strong opposition to the AKP.
Piccoli, who has been following developments in Turkey very closely for years, also believes Erdoğan is unlikely to alter his overall stance in the aftermath of this electoral defeat. “Erdoğan’s authoritarian brand of politics will remain polarizing, and tensions within the country will continue to run high as long as he is in office,” he predicted.
Erdoğan will no doubt use these results to justify his argument about the need for a presidential system to ensure political stability. But despite his intense campaigning prior to the elections the majority of voters clearly do not agree with him on this. Unless he has some other means of imposing this will on Turkey, his leadership dreams are over.
He will be penned in now by an opposition that is unified against him and a constitution he has failed to change to suit his needs. This outcome was the worst that he could have dreamt of. His displeasure was apparent in the fact that he had nothing to say on election night. Had the AKP won a resounding victory he would have found it difficult to restrain himself and would be blasting away at his detractors.
The bottom line is that there may be difficult days ahead for Turkey politically and economically, but many now see the promise of a new dawn for the country and an eventual return to normality in terms of democracy.