Elections are over. Quite a number of Turks are celebrating the results as a “victory,” while there is a completely depressive mood in some segments of society.
In a polarized country, this ought to be considered nothing but normal as for some peculiar reason, the “victory” of one is considered the “defeat” of the other.
Obviously, the victors of the Turkish twin election were the incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan—who managed to make a comeback with enhanced powers with 52.5 percent of the vote—and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). It gave birth to a new party. Attacked so much all throughout the campaign, all political analysts and pollsters claimed it became a nuance party. Yet, it came back not only with a vote share almost at the same level it had in the 2015 election but also as a party that elected Erdoğan and captured the role of kingmaker in the new parliament. An outstanding success story.
Perhaps rather than discussing what happened on election night, it is now time to think of what might be in store for the “new Turkey.”
The question of “what’s next” must be asked in all spheres.
A president with the power to appoint 12 of the 15 members of the Constitutional Court, for example, cannot be considered only a chief executive, but also probably the chief judge of the country.
As with the introduction of a “party-member president” status, the above party politics status of the presidency has been terminated, and even though his AKP is a few seats short of the majority in parliament, the president can shape the way he wants the legislature to act with the cooperation of the MHP. Thus, while the president will need the MHP’s support, the MHP will continue to influence foreign policy and security as well as the domestic policies of Turkey.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) managed to make a strong comeback in the new parliament with borrowed votes from social democrats, though many of its leaders and deputies were in prison, including presidential candidate Demirtaş.
In view of the increased role the MHP acquired not only by contributing to the election of Erdoğan as president, despite a decline in the AKP vote, but more so with its parliamentary seats that could provide the AKP a precious parliamentary majority to govern, the new Erdoğan government is compelled to be more nationalistic than ever in both domestic and foreign policy. More so, the security-centered approach in dealing with the Kurdish issue might be consolidated in this new era though it has repeatedly been proven that in the absence of political reforms, policies focused on using force have all failed in tackling this important problem in post-republic Turkey.
This dependent togetherness of the AKP with the MHP will shape Turkey’s foreign and allied relations as well. From the S-400 controversy with the United States and NATO allies to rights, liberties, democratic norms-centered acute fever or Cyprus and the Kurds, such chronic problems will most likely continue poisoning relations with the EU.
What Austria’s foreign minister or some other professed anti-Turkish politicians have said might not be that important but it is a fact that Europe has not at all been happy with Turkey swinging far away from Western values.
How will the new Turkey manage to establish new bridges with the U.S.—challenging to impose sweeping sanctions if Erdoğan continues his Russia love—or with the EU greatly antagonized by persistent and premeditated rights violations?