The CHP has shaped the format of June 24 elections
Looking solely at numbers, we need to highlight how the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on June 24 fell into a downward spiral, dropping below the 25 percent barrier it succeeded since the 2011 general elections.
The number of votes the CHP won in the June 24 parliamentary elections is less than what it got in the June 7 and Nov. 1 elections in 2015. The CHP, in fact, on June 24 lost so many votes that it retracted back to the point it was at in 2011.
But while looking at the number of its MPs, we need to look carefully at one important point.
A significant portion of urban voters living in the west of the country have voted for the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) upon the concern that the party could fall below the much-criticized 10 percent threshold a party needs to pass in order to win seats in parliament.
The concern also included a worry that if the HDP did not make it into the parliament, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would have a disproportionate authority.
How the HDP lost a good portion of its votes in Turkey’s east and southeast, where there is a much greater population of ethnic Kurds, and managed to get a greater share of votes in a key city like Istanbul stands proof to that.
As an example, while the HDP votes stood at 10.1 percent in Istanbul in the Nov. 1, 2015 snap elections, it rose to 12.7 in the June 24 snap elections.
The HDP votes here have gone up by 250,000.
In contrast, the CHP votes fell from 30.4 to 26.4 percent – a good 280,000 votes.
We can assume that a solid portion of the lost CHP votes in fact were transferred to the HDP. But it would not be realistic to assume that the CHP voters’ support for the HDP will stand forever.
It is also no secret that some CHP voters supported the newly-founded İYİ (Good) Party.
Surely, the analyses yet to come will show what percentage of the CHP votes went to the İYİ Party and what percentage to the HDP.
At this point, it is tough to say whether the traditional CHP voters who supported the İYİ Party in the ballots this time will stick with the recently-founded party or not.
Of course, one has to take how Muharrem İnce, CHP MP from the northwestern Yalova province and presidential candidate, rose above the 30 percent barrier in the race for the presidential office, surpassing the votes his party won on the same day — when two ballots were for the first time placed in a single envelope.
The CHP voters who voted for the İYİ Party and the HDP in the elections stuck with the CHP candidate in the presidential elections.
Yet it was not only the CHP voter base who gave their solid support to İnce’s leadership.
We can assume that the votes İnce received could have included the HDP and the İYİ Party voter base.
It is quite clear at this point that İnce has brought a breath of fresh air into the CHP. He also became a heavyweight in his own party in this 50-day campaigning period.
We can have a better read of the June 24 elections when we look at not only the quantitative results but also the qualitative aspects of the moves the party has made in the election period.
In that we can count how the İYİ Party and the Felicity Party (SP) have secured seats in the parliament by having jumped on the “Nation Alliance” wagon along with the CHP.
We should also mention that İYİ Party, in the end, got to join the election at a time when there were worries whether the convention was held the required six months before voting day – a condition required for a party to join the polls.
Considering all these aspects, we should say that the initiatives CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu took along the process paved the way for the 10-percent threshold to lose its meaning in helping create a parliament that houses representatives from five different parties.
Getting the İYİ Party and the SP into the parliament was an official political objective of the CHP.
And a portion of the CHP voter base took the initiative to help the HDP pass the threshold.
The performance the CHP put out there, the initiatives it has taken and the moves it has made in the period running up to the landmark June 24 elections – a transit point into a much powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdoğan — will be key factors in a retrospective analysis.