Turkey votes Democracy

, by Jan Seifert

Turkey votes Democracy

It has been a fabulous day for democracy. Europe’s second biggest country has proven to be also Europe’s second biggest democracy. With a record turn-out of almost 85% the mandate for the all-out winner AKP is crystal clear: move on with reform and bring Turkey to Europe.

Due to their strange electoral system the AKP’s (Justice and Development Party) share of MPs has not changed much even though the party has gained roughly 10% in votes and stands now at 46,5%. The CHP (Republican People’s Party) got 20,8%, MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) 14,3% and the independents 5,2%. However, as the independents ran individually in many of the multi-member constituencies, the share of MPs in the Turkish Parliament looks the following (numbers taken from Hürriyet):

Justice and Development Party (AKP): 340 seats

Republican People’s Party (CHP): 112 seats

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP): 71 seats

Independents: 27 seats

The good news from this is that the independents, out of which 24 are Kurds aligned with the DTP party (Democratic Society Party), can form their own parliamentary group (this would be the first Kurdish parliamentary group in Turkish history).

Another interesting result is that AKP and Independents together account for exactly one vote above the 2/3 threshold for constitutional changes and the election of the new president. Can a progressive AKP-Kurdish coalition bring about the overdue changes to the Turkish constitution?

In order to reconcile with the nationalist-secularists a brave sign could be given with the election of the next president. Abdullah Gül who is anyways much more needed to approach Turkey further to the EU, should leave the space for someone else to become president.

Why not elect the influential (female) boss of the Turkish Federation of Enterprise as president? This would send the strongest sign of acknowledgement for that half of the population that is still worlds from being adequately represented in Turkish political life (if not society as a whole).

This article was initally posted as comment on Jan’s EUblog on 23 July 2007.


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