Analysis: Turkish elections close age of Ataturk, open age of Erdogan

Analysis: Turkish elections close age of Ataturk, open age of Erdogan

The Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections’ outcome has marked the start of a new period in the country's politics, with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the face of Turkey’s politics since 2002, playing the central role.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections’ outcome has marked the start of a new period in the country's politics, with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the face of Turkey’s politics since 2002, playing the central role.

In the old political structure, Erdogan had to move within the lines of a political manifesto set up by the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. But under the new period, Erdogan himself is the architect of a new order for the Republic. Today, Erdogan is not simply an enforcer of already-set politics, rather, he crafts a new manifesto for the country.

The turnout of the June 24 was reported to be close to 90 percent, the highest in the nation’s history. The vote re-imposed Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) on the top of the political scene. How will this form the home politics and where does the domestic political agenda go in the future?

Cracking vote results’ code: Erdogan’s big win

According to the final election results, Erdogan won 52.55 percent of the votes to see himself being an outright winner. Figures suggest that the opposition candidate Muharrem Ince won 30.67 percent, Salahaddin Demirtas 8 percent, Meral Aksener 7 percent, Temel Karamollaoglu 0.9 percent, and Dogu Perincek 0.2 percent.

And here is the parliamentary polls’ result, according to Turkish Anadolu news agency:

People’s Alliance, comprised of the ruling AKP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), harvested 53.65 percent of the votes. The Nation’s Alliance, including the Republican People’s Party (CHP), iYi (Good) Party, and Saadet Party, won 33.96 of the votes. And the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party won 11.69 percent. And the remaining 0.7 percent went to others.

The results have several points. First, Erdogan and his party will remain the unquestionable power holders, without challenges ahead of them forming a government or moving to the new presidential system. Second, AKP’s leading opponent CHP saw a drop in its votes. And third is the Kurdish success to re-enter the parliament after a period of trouble with Erdogan government.

End of Ataturk legacy

The first and the most significant outcome of the late June elections was the end of a century of Kemalism in Turkey. Building a secular Turkey with a parliamentary system from the rubble of the defeated Ottoman Empire, Ataturk created a big legacy lived on after him for the next decades. Two matters were central to Ataturk’s Turkey: Parliamentary system and secularism.

Parliamentary system and secularism were viewed as unchangeable parts of modern Turkey in the next decades. When they were at stake in some periods, the military followed an Ataturk’s will to intervene to save his legacy and led a coup rule to guarantee the two principles’ protection. From foundation to 2002, the year Erdogan party assumed the power, Turkey witnessed four military coups.

When AKP held the power, Turkey under Erdogan took quiet steps towards fine-tuning Kemalist policy. In the first steps, Erdogan managed to reform the education system, lifting the ban on Islamic hijab in the schools and universities and state buildings. After two terms as a prime minister, Erdogan became president to continue leadership. He gradually started efforts to transform the political system from parliamentary to presidential, an idea provoked an action from the military, which in mid-July 2016 arranged a coup but failed to topple the president.

After the coup, Erdogan launched a campaign of purges at home, dismissing 107,000 state and army employees and arresting over 50,000 opponents. With a decision to set a date for constitutional reforms referendum to transfer to presidential system, Erdogan dealt the last blow to the Kemalist legacy. He won what he wanted from the referendum. The change was set for October 2019. But Erdogan drew that time earlier after meeting with MHP leader Devlet Bahceli and announced snap elections on April 18 and set June 24 for dual elections. And now he and his party are the victors, practically cutting the ribbon of a new period in the Turkish history.

Erdogan and AKP’s hands open for changes

The new period should be rightly dubbed the age of Erdogan based on two key reasons: First, Erdogan is now a stronger man with a sway over the military, judiciary, and society to make fundamental changes. And second, the People’s Alliance has won 53.65 percent of the votes to lead at the parliament and is unchecked by any obstacles to pass the government-proposed bills.

Some analysts suggest that the big power will allow Erdogan to continue purging and restricting the opposition. The Gulen movement’s members, led by the self-exiled opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, and the Kurds with affiliation to the banned Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) are expected to be subjected to Erdogan crackdown. Erdogan is also expected to push for AKP-eyed Islamist laws and values.

In his address of supporters after the elections, Erdogan almost gave a picture of how his plans in the new Turkey will look like. Striking a combative tone, he told the massive cheering crowds that Turkey fought the traitors and plotters, and foreign enemies.

“Together, we responded to those who waited for Turkey to bow to them. Turkey chose to firmly battle terrorist groups from FETO (Gulen-liked underground organization) to PKK,” the president was quoted as saying. 

The remarks very well give an outlook of Erdogan’s intention to eliminate his opponents, something he is expected to restart soon.   


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