5 things to know about Turkey's Nov. 1 election
Oct. 31, 2015
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey will hold a parliamentary election Sunday for the second time since June. Here are five things to know about the vote:
WHO GETS TO VOTE AND WHAT'S AT STAKE: More than 54 million people are eligible to vote at more than 175,000 polling stations. Turkey's Grand National Assembly has 550 seats and a party needs to win at least 276 for a majority. Neither President Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is in any danger of losing his position. The key question is whether their ruling Justice and Development Party gets enough seats for an outright majority in parliament or whether they have to form a coalition with one or more other parties in order to govern.
WHY TURKEY IS HOLDING A NEW ELECTION: This is a redo of the June election in which the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, lost its majority after 13 years of single-party rule. Erdogan called for new elections after Davutoglu failed to form a coalition with any of the three opposition parties in parliament. Some believe, however, that Erdogan never wanted a coalition government, and goaded Davutoglu behind the scenes into trying to win back a majority in a new election. Erdogan seems to have abandoned — for now — all hopes that his party can win a two-thirds majority that would allow it to change the constitution and expand the powers of the president.
WHAT'S CHANGED SINCE JUNE: Turkey has been faced with its worst violence in years. Renewed fighting between Turkey's security forces and Kurdish rebels has killed hundreds of people and shattered an already-fragile peace process. Two massive suicide bombings at pro-Kurdish gatherings that killed some 130 people, apparently carried out by an Islamic State group cell, have increased tensions. The vote also comes amid rising instability in neighboring Syria and Iraq and a refugee crisis that is spilling into Europe. There are also concerns about Turkey's slowing economy and the violence damaging its tourism sector. The ruling party is gambling that voters irked by the violence will once again rally around the party for the sake of stability.
THE PLAYERS: There are four key parties to know about in the election. They are:
— The Justice and Development Party, or AKP: Conservative and religious. In the June elections, the party won nearly 41 percent of votes, falling 18 seats short of the 276 needed for an outright majority. This time, the party has been targeting constituencies that it lost narrowly.
— The Republican Peoples Party, or CHP: Center-left and staunchly secular. The party is campaigning on promises to strengthen Turkey's economy, raise wages and end poverty. In June, it won 132 seats with 25 percent support.
— The Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP: Right-wing and nationalist. Strongly opposed to peace talks with the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. The party shares a common conservative and nationalist voter base with the ruling party and is seen as a natural coalition partner. It won 80 seats with 16 percent of votes in June.
— The People's Democratic Party, or HDP: Left-wing and pro-Kurdish. In June, the party for the first time cleared a 10 percent threshold needed for representation as a party in parliament, taking seats mostly at the ruling party's expense. The party favors resumption of peace efforts to end the Kurdish conflict. Erdogan has lashed out at the HDP, calling it the political arm of the Kurdistan Workers Party, which Turkey and most Western countries consider a terrorist organization. It took 80 seats with 13 percent of votes in June.
THE POST-ELECTION POSSIBILITIES: Most analysts say the results of Sunday's elections are likely to be similar to the June results, with the ruling party falling below a ruling majority in the parliament. A slightly better result than in June could put them just over the threshold. Short of a majority, the ruling party would seek a coalition with the opposition parties. Here are their options:
— The secularists: The secularist CHP is the most likely partner and would give the coalition government the broadest majority and stability.
— The Kurds: Joining a coalition with the main Kurdish party, HDP, would be a sign that AKP wants to return to a broken-down peace process to end decades of fighting with Kurdish militants. But given the recent violence, tensions may be too high for this option.
— The nationalists: A coalition with the nationalist MHP would send the opposite signal: that the peace process is beyond repair and the government is prepared for an aggressive approach. But MHP has set difficult conditions for a coalition with AKP.