Will Erdoğan let power slip from his hands?
The main question of the June 7 general election was whether the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) could exceed the 10 percent threshold and get into parliament. It managed to do so, thanks to its co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş’s challenging of President Tayyip Erdoğan’s target to change the parliamentary system into a presidential one, which attracted Turkish liberals and leftists as well as traditional Kurdish nationalist and secular votes. The HDP representation in parliament was the reason why the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) lost its 13-year majority in parliament.
However, Erdoğan has since led Turkey to a re-election due for this Sunday, Nov. 1. He once again hopes that he will be able to exercise de facto presidential powers if the AK Parti is able to regain its majority and form a single-party government.
The main question of the Nov. 1 re-election is therefore not whether the HDP will exceed the 10 percent threshold. All polls carried out so far show the HDP above 10 percent, despite the high hopes of both Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to push it under.
The main question on Nov. 1 will be whether the AK Parti can regain power as a single-party government.
There are just five days left until the election but there is still no clear answer.
AK Parti HQ seems to accept the high probability that the HDP will get into parliament, once again resulting in a four-party parliament. But it is still focused on the possibility of emerging with a single-party government, even with a narrow margin, from a four-party parliament. That would not only require at least 43-44 percent of the votes (versus 40.9 percent on June 7), but also such a distribution that the AK Parti is able to reclaim deputies from provinces that in June were lost to other parties by a margin of hundreds or a few thousand votes.
But it is not only the AK Parti that is chasing those votes. The other three parties are also hoping to gain more deputies - or at least protect their positions. You can find an analysis in today’s Hürriyet Daily News, which profiles the 39 key battlefield provinces (out of 81).
If the AK Parti is unable to regain its majority, or cannot form a one-party government through “gray scenarios” that were detailed in the Oct. 26 edition of HDN, it could mean a coalition government. It could alternatively mean yet another election, despite the dangerously escalating level of political polarization in Turkey, which also threatens the investment environment.
The country will then have to face the crucial question: Will Erdoğan allow power to slip from his hands?
The answer to that question will be directly related to the quality of democracy in Turkey: Only in democracies do governments bow to the will of the people and have respect for what they are told through the ballot box.
Democracy is not a tool that we can use only if it gives us the power we want. It must be used when it takes power away from us and gives it to someone else, or shares it between parties. If this cannot happen, then it will mean that Turkey is something other than a quality, working democracy.