Turkey elections: AKP wins majority, HDP crosses threshold despite repression

The results of the 1st of November general elections in Turkey took everyone by surprise.

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AKP (Justice and Development Party), Edrogans party, managed to win the majority of the votes, creating a majority government, taking 49% and 312 seats in the parliament (out of 550), CHP, the republican party sustained their votes and percentages and took 25.4% and 134 seats. The main party that saw significant losses was MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) who slipped from 16,3% in Junes elections and 80 seats to 12,1% and 43 seats. As far as the pro Kurdish, leftist HDP (Peoples Democratic Party) party is concerned, one more time they managed to pass the 10% threshold, but however lost 2% (from 13% in June to 10.7% now), and 20 seats (from 80 to 60).

We talked with our comrade Cosku Mihci, from Sosyalist Alternatif, the sister organization of NEDA in Turkey, for a first reaction to the results. Interviewed by Athina Kariati.

According to the polls held in the last 5 months nobody was expecting these results. How did we get to this outcome?

We were all surprised with the results. Not even AKP didn’t expect something like this to happen.

Many of the polling companies were saying that they could not make accurate predictions because of their inability to include in the poll people living in the Kurdish areas where the war started. There was a prediction that MHP will loose percentage, however no one knew what will happen in the Kurdish areas because of the attacks and the curfew that started after the previous elections.

Since the last elections in June, Erdogan and the state had started a massive scale attack against the Kurds and the left, how do you explain the rise in the votes towards AKP?

AKP raised its votes by 9% in 5 months. This is a victory. But its not a victory based on trust and the belief that AKP can create safety. Its a victory based on fear and one we can call a ransom vote.

In the elections of last June AKP lost the majority in parliament for the first time after 13 years. Exactly after the negotiations with the other parties to form a coalition government collapsed, AKP started an open war towards HDP, the Kurds and the left. The two bombings that killed 200 people in total, the arrests of 400 members of HDP, the curfew in the Kurdish areas, the attacks in the offices of HDP; and this instability caused the value of the Turkish lira to drop. All these were directly related to AKP. So people felt that in order for AKP to stop this aggressiveness, they would vote for them. That’s what I meant when I characterised it a ransom vote.

People knew that it would not be possible to create a government through a coalition of AKP with another party, but not even a coalition of any other kind, since CHP, MHP and HDP did not come into any agreement to form a government. The failure therefore of the rest of the parties to propose an alternative was mirrored in AKP’s victory.

One of the goals of AKP and Erdogan was to attack HDP and to make it loose its support. Do you think he succeeded?

HDPs votes decreased by 2% and 20 MPs, but we cannot say that HDP was defeated. They still managed to pass the threshold and get significant positions in parliament which is very important.

If we look at the results closely, 1% of AKPs votes was lost in the Kurdish cities, and 1% was lost from the big Turkish cities (Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir).

In the Kurdish cities AKP did double its vote, compared to June elections. However these votes were mainly based on fear.

HDP had also a big share of responsibility for loosing votes. HDP did very little campaigning for these elections and it was mainly based on the national question, loosing the class issues and social demands that they took on in the elections of June. Of course the circumstances were difficult, especially after the attack in Ankara, however it reflected into the society as if HDP had given up after the attack. They did not call for any open big demos, it was like they accepted the situation, they didn’t try to struggle against the situation.

During these 5 months, HDP actually left the ropes on the hands of PKK to deal with the war. HDP became pacifists and sat in the side, PKK was making the politics. That was a mistake and may be the reason for loosing some votes from Turkish workers. PKKs armed struggle may have put the Kurdish question in the forefront in the past, however today it is clear even for Kurdish people that the armed struggle is no way out.

In the June elections HDP did not present themselves as a mainly Kurdish party, as it is not. They embraced the social movements, such as the LGBT and womens movements, and had candidates from those movements among its lists. They dealt with social issues, not just with ethnic identities. They even had some class demands like talking about unemployment but they never addressed the issue of the land reform in the Kurdish areas, or even mentioned that some of their MPs are themselves landlords. 10 days ago Demirtaş mentioned that they could even go for a collaboration with AKP after these elections, trying to present HDP as responsible politicians, as any other bourgeois politician. This is not what the working people -Turkish or Kurdish- need though. These kind of positions and zig – zags have discouraged some people to vote for them.

These are all issues that have to be discussed in the coming period democratically in HDP, because even though the objective situation was indeed difficult, in order to move forward HDP cannot base their analysis of the results only on the state and AKP’s attack.

The second goal of Erdogan and AKP was to get a strong majority to be able to change the constitution and gather more powers to the president. Can they do that now?

In order to change the constitution without a referendum AKP needs 376 seats, however now they won 314 seats. Even if MHP decides to collaborate with them, again they cannot reach the 376 seats that they need. With 330 seats AKP can call for a referendum. Again though, MHP does not agree with the changes that AKP wants to make. The only reason for them to agree to collaborate with them, is if the changes are not openly changing the system but gives only specific more powers to Erdogan.

MHP is now the biggest looser of the elections. They lost 4% and half of their seats mainly to AKP. Therefore there will be internal developments in the party in the next period.

In the news in Cyprus the titles were “Turkish vote for stability” do you think AKP will bring stability?

It is true that Erdogan and AKP used and created the instability in order to take the fruit of it and win the elections. Now either AKP nor Erdogan need the instability. Therefore there were some commentators since Monday discussing that there is a possibility that the peace process will start again. And actually in the situation that exists now, there are only two ways that AKP could take, the one is softer policies to PKK or an open attack. What will happen is still to be seen.

What do you think it would be the reflection on the national question in Cyprus and foreign affairs?

Erdogan was endorsed from Merkel just before the elections due to the refugee crisis. Generally the Turkish state looks how they can gain more from their foreign affairs and their main interest now is joining the EU which means opening more chapters and continuing the process. Its through that prism that they see the Cyprus national question as well. They will support a process if it brings them gains. Lets not forget that even in 2004, Erdogan supported a yes vote to the Annan plan, exactly as at that period the discussions of Turkey joining the EU intensified.

What do you think should be the next steps for HDP and the workers movement?

Even if AKP won the elections it doesnt mean that HDP lost the elections. Reaching the 10% is an important step forward. However now its important for HDP to open to democratic discussion inside the party and with all the forces that supported them in order to examine the course of the last 5 months and create the programme and goals for the next stuggles that are to be given from both kurdish and turkish workers united against the oppression of the state and AKP government, against austerity and neoliberalism. İn these discussions Sosyalist Alternatif is willing to take part and contribute to build the mass workers party that working people from all ethnic identities need.

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