Ruling AKP at crossroads after losing parliamentary majority
AP PhotoTurkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power without interruption since 2002, but the party has lost its parliamentary majority following the results of the landmark June 7 election.
With about 99 percent of the vote counted and despite being well ahead of other parties with the support of around 42 percent of the populace, the AKP seemed set to received fewer than 276 seats – the bare minimum to keep its parliamentary majority.
Whether the AKP will seek to form a coalition government or choose to establish a minority government before going to early elections depends upon the eventual interpretation of the final results by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a co-founder of the AKP. Since the results have been widely considered a blow to Erdoğan’s bid to transit to a powerful presidential system, his evaluation will be decisive.
The June 7 parliamentary election was the first election in which the AKP and the government was led by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who assumed his current post after then-Prime Minister Erdoğan was elected president in August 2014, when a president was first elected by direct vote in Turkey.
Erdoğan was elected president by winning 52 percent of the vote in 2014.
Aside from slings and arrows that may have been posed by the country’s election system – which is labeled by some as “the world’s most unfair election system” – a comparison of leadership performances between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu will be inevitable. There is speculation that the results could lead to a leadership change in which Erdoğan could leave his presidential office to head the party to an early election.
Last night, when it became crystal-clear that his party would not succeed in winning a parliamentary majority, Davutoğlu was in his hometown Konya. He left his home in order to travel to Ankara where he was expected to deliver a public address after the Hürriyet Daily News went to print.
“We will altogether experience very beautiful days,” Davutoğlu told the crowd in front of his house before he set off for the capital.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, meanwhile, reportedly refused to comment on the results since Davutoğlu had not yet made a statement. However, Arınç, reportedly noted that he was “sorry.”
The AKP came to power in 2002 with 34 percent of the national vote. With Erdoğan at the helm, the AKP increased this figure to 47 percent of the vote in the 2007 elections and 50 percent in the 2011 elections.