For the first time in his 13-year rule, the president must enter coalition talks or call new elections as Kurdish party scores a stunning success.Coalition talks will dominate the coming weeks in Turkey after voters snubbed president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to change the constitution and extend his grip on power with an executive presidency, delivering the biggest blow to his Justice and Development, or AK, party since they swept to power in 2002.
For the first time in its 13-year-rule, his Justice and Development, or AK, party has lost parliamentary majority, while the country’s Kurdish minority has been granted an unprecedented political voice in the Turkish parliament.
While the governing party comfortably managed to secure the biggest portion of the vote in yesterday’s/Sunday’s elections, the 41% of all seats represent a sharp drop from the polls in 2011, when they won nearly half the national vote. For the first time since 2002, the AKP will now need to form a coalition government or call new elections.
It remains unclear who will be a likely partner for the AK party after the most likely candidate, the right-wing Nationalist Movement party (MHP) ruled out the possibility of a coalition last night.
According to the state-run Anadolu Agency, party leader Devlet Bahceli said the party was “ready to be a main opposition party against a possible AK Party-CHP-HDP coalition” during a delivery speech from MHP headquarters in Ankara early on Monday.
“Nobody has a right to drag Turkey into [AK party] minority and some circles’ scenarios,” said Bahceli. “A snap election will happen whenever it will happen.” He welcomed the election results, with his party gaining 31 seats in parliament.
Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the leftist Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP) and surprise star of this election, also dismissed any possibility of a coalition with the ruling AK party after the results were announced.
“We will not form a coalition with the AKP, we stand behind our words. We will be in parliament as a strong opposition,” Demirtas said in a press conference in Istanbul last night. He added that the election results had clearly put an end to all plans of an executive presidency.
“As of this moment, the debate on the presidency, the debate about dictatorship, has come to an end in Turkey. Turkey has returned from the edge of a cliff.”
Pro-government newspapers are already calling for early elections on Monday morning. “The ballot box revealed the ballot box”, Yeni Safak titled. AK party deputy and head of the parliamentary constitution commission Burhan Kuzu said that snap elections were “inevitable”:
“No government will emerge from this scenario. Not even a coalition,” he told BBC Türkçe. “Early elections look inevitable.” He added that the election results reflected the “weakness of the parliamentary system”:
“The parliamentary system is a curse for the whole world. In Turkey only majority governments ever worked, coalitions always destroyed it.” He said that the only solution would be an executive presidency.
According to AFP news agency, new elections could be called any time in the next 45 days.
Official results based on 99.9% of votes counted put the AKP in the lead, followed by the Republican People’s party (CHP) on 25%, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on 16.5% and the HDP in fourth place with 13%. Turnout was 86%.
According to official projections, the AKP will have 258 seats in the 550-seat parliament, the CHP 132, the MHP 81 and the HDP 79.
The AKP has dominated Turkish politics since it first came to power in 2002, but has suffered from a dip in economic growth and controversy over Erdogan’s perceived authoritarian tendencies.
The results wreck Erdogan’s dream of agreeing a new constitution to switch Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system that he had made a fundamental issue in the campaign.
Such a change would have required a two-thirds majority in the parliament.
Speaking from the balcony of AKP headquarters in Ankara – the traditional place for the party’s victory speeches – prime minister and party leader Ahmet Davutoglu sought to put a brave face on the results.
“The winner of the election is again the AKP, there’s no doubt,” he said, pledging to ensure Turkey’s stability.
But he added: “Our people’s decision is final. It’s above everything and we will act in line with it.”
In a sensational result that shakes-up Turkey’s political landscape, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic party (HDP) easily surpassed the 10% barrier needed to send MPs to parliament.
Another record was set by the number of women MPs set to take a seat in parliament after an unofficial tally estimated a total of 96 female parliamentarians securing a place in the Turkish Grand National Assembly – a record high and up from 79 in 2011.
The election breakthrough for the HDP was greeted with wild celebration in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey.
Cars paraded through the city with drivers honking and people hanging out from windows making ‘V’ signs as occasional gunshots were fired into the air.
The results will give the Kurds – who, with 20% of Turkey’s population, are the country’s biggest minority – true representation in parliament.
In Diyarbakir, supporters were dancing and shouting the party’s election slogan: “We are the HDP, we are going to the parliament.”
“It is a carnival night,” said 47-year-old Huseyin Durmaz, a Kurd.
“We no longer trust the AKP,” he said.
“The HDP’s rise symbolises the unity of the Kurds and is one step closer to democracy,” said HDP supporter Yalman.
“It is a warning against (the) AKP and dictatorship,” he said.