What did Erdoğan mean when he said ‘message received’ after the election?
Imagine that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) did not form an electoral alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). In such a scenario, what would be the odds for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to get reelected president? The results coming out of ballot boxes on June 24 show that those odds would not be good.
Let’s look at the difference between the votes Erdoğan received with the support of the “Nation Alliance” that the AKP formed with the MHP. Erdoğan received 26.3 million votes in the presidential race while the AKP received 21.3 million votes in the parliamentary elections.
So even though limited support was received from other parties, the determining factor in carrying Erdoğan to the presidential office was the bloc support granted by the MHP.
We can understand the importance of the MHP’s support for Erdoğan by using other validation methods as well. When we add the 5.5 million votes that the MHP received in the parliamentary race to the 21.3 million votes that the AKP received, we get 26.9 million votes. This number is around 600,000 votes higher than what Erdoğan received on June 24.
Comparing the votes that the AKP leader received in the August 2014 presidential elections with what he got in the June 24 election brings us to an interesting point. In the 2014 election, Erdoğan got 21 million votes (making up 51.8 percent of the whole) in the 2014 elections. This number is slightly lower than the 21.3 million votes that the AKP received on June 24.
Interestingly, Erdoğan on June 24 got 52.6 percent of the whole and thus slightly outperformed the 51.8 percent he got in 2014, thanks to the support of the MHP. In the 2014 election, the MHP backed the joint opposition candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu.
We should also take the expat votes into consideration when looking at these numbers. In the 2014 elections there were some 55,692,000 registered voters, including expats. On June 24, the number of registered voters had gone up to around 59,370,000, meaning that the number of registered voters had gone up by around 3.7 million.
Considering the increase in the number of registered voters since 2014, data shows that the number of votes that the AKP has received by way of Erdoğan has remained stagnant for the past four years.
Looking at the parliamentary elections, the 21.3 million votes that the AKP received on June 24 outperform the 18.9 million votes it got in June 2015, though the number is significantly below the 23.7 million votes it received in November 2015.
The votes that the AKP got on June 24 are most similar to what it received seven years ago on June 12, 2011, when it received a record 21.4 million votes in June 2011. But when we consider the increase in the number of registered voters since 2011, we must say that the AKP voter base has shrunk.
Some 52.8 million registered voters took part in the June 2011 elections, and some 59.4 million registered voter took part in the June 24 election. Over 3 million of votes in the latter election were votes that poured in from expats, who were granted the right to vote in 2014.
All this data tells us that the AKP is on a long-term declining trend, although it remains the main actor in Turkey’s party politics.
Looking specifically into the decrease in AKP votes on June 24, we can probably say that some of the MHP voters who supported the AKP in the Nov. 1, 2015 election, which took place under extraordinary circumstances after the collapse of the Kurdish peace process, have now returned to their party.
Another factor could be that a portion of the votes have slid to the recently founded İYİ (Good) Party. And yet another factor could be that the AKP was unable to appeal to enough of the one million first-time voters on June 24.
I guess it must be this picture that lies behind the words that President Erdoğan uttered while making his balcony speech at midnight in the Turkish capital after the vote.
“We have received the message from our nation. Rest assured, in the next term we will make up for all our shortcomings,” he said.