An American Turkophile approves of the election results

Turks went to the polls today in numbers that should make Americans blush: 44 million of 50 million registered voters, or 88 per cent.

The results should get two cheers from American friends of Turkey. The victory of the Justice and Development (AK) party was a foregone conclusion. AK got 49.9% of the vote and 325 seats, losing eleven seats from the current level.

But the critical issue for Turkey is what happens to the Turkish constitution, which was written by the Army after the 1982 military coup. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is committed to writing a new constitution. He hoped to capture two-thirds, or 367, of the seats in parliament, which would have allowed his party to write the new constitution by itself. Failing that he hoped for three-fifths, or 330, of the seats, which would have allowed the same unilateral drafting of a new constitution but subject to a popular referendum (which he would have been heavily favored to win). But on Sunday AK fell a little short of even the 330 threshold.

This matters for two reasons. First, AK is an Islamist party, and while many, especially Westerners, consider it Islamist in a non-threatening way (for example it wants to allow (not require) women to wear headscarves in public universities), many secular Turks fear it will introduce religion into public life. But second, and far more threateningly, Erdoğan has shown himself and AK to be more and more authoritarian, stifling dissent, striking at press freedom, and imprisoning more journalists than even China.

Sunday’s election will strengthen Turkish democracy by putting the brakes on any attempt to increase and perpetuate the ruling party’s power.


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2 Responses to “An American Turkophile approves of the election results”

  1. walksinistanbul Says:

    From a newspaper: ” total number of people who voted for him is equal to the population of Syria. Total number of people who voted is the sum of Syria + Lebanon+Israel+Palestine+Jordan”
    87% voted and half of them for Erdogan. Turks like him. He is the only leader who has increased his party’s votes in every election.
    2002 he had 34%, 2007 he had 47%.
    The difference between him and the opposition CHP is 10 million votes.
    CHP has 26% and increased number of its seats by 20% in the parliament.
    The best is the Kurds having 36 members in the parliament which is a fantastic result.
    MHP is 13% ( over the 10% threshold)…
    Erdogan does not have the 330 seats he asked for so he wont be able to change the constitution without a consensus.
    so we have a very good representation of everyone in the parliament… we are quite happy with the results actually.

  2. Ethics Bob Says:

    Yes, I hadn’t thought about the Kurds’ representation. That’s certainly a very positive result.

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