MHP was the ‘deep wave’ in Turkey’s election
A number of broad points can be made about the results that emerged from Turkey’s parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24.
First, by winning the vote President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was able to bring the presidential system into life and has been granted the right to rule Turkey using extensive powers until at least 2023. While Erdoğan received over 52 percent of votes, one must look at the decreasing number of Justice and Development Party (AKP) votes.
The ruling AKP received some 49.5 percent of total votes in the legislative elections of Nov. 1, 2015 and this time it scored around 42.4 percent of the vote. This share is slightly above than the 40.87 percent it got in the June 7, 2015 election, conducted before the country was taken to snap elections on Nov. 1.
The AKP has therefore lost its single-party majority in the Turkish Parliament. To carry out legislative work it now needs the support of its electoral ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). MHP head Devlet Bahçeli, a veteran who has led his party since 1999, will now have an even greater impact on Turkish politics.
The June 24 election demonstrates how critical the alliance with the MHP has been for Erdoğan strategically in the period leading to the April 2017 referendum, which paved the way for the presidential system to be installed.
The MHP has kept its promise and done its part in the “People’s Alliance” it has formed with the AKP going into the June 24 elections by helping Erdoğan grant his seat in the presidential office.
Let’s face it: The biggest surprise that came out of these elections is how the MHP conserved a majority of its vote share, despite all speculations and internal divisions. In this regard, the “deep wave” of this election was the MHP, which had been expected to struggle.
Muharrem İnce, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), failed in his objective to take the race to a second round. Still, having outperformed the CHP’s traditional 25 percent share, by receiving more than 30 percent, and with the enthusiasm he helped create ahead of the vote, İnce raised his profile and will be a key player going forward.
The recently founded İYİ (Good) Party underperformed some pre-election opinion polls, but it received 10 percent of the votes and thus was able to pass the threshold despite being just a beginner political party, at a time when its campaigning was necessarily limited by resources and media opportunities. In this regard, İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener scored a good success that cannot be ignored.
By passing the 10 percent threshold, the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also registered a success in an election in which it was hugely disadvantaged by arrests and crackdowns, and the fact that its presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş was campaigning from jail. However, the “lent” votes given to the HDP by some CHP voters in this regard should not be ignored.