Ruling party loses majority in Turkey elections

Preliminary results suggest AK party won polls, but lost simple majority in parliament due to pro-Kurdish party gains.

HDP supporters Turkey
HDP supporters has started celebrating the election results in predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey [Reuters]

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK party) has won Turkey’s parliamentary polls, but lost its single-party government, according to the preliminary results.

The country’s pro-Kurdish left-wing Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) crossed the country’s unusually high 10 percent electoral threshold that affected the distribution of seats and, consequently, the power of the ruling party.

Official results based on 99.9 percent of votes counted gave the AK party 41 percent of Sunday’s votes, while the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) scored 25 percent.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) secured 16.5 percent of the votes, while the HDP won 13 percent.

About 54 million citizens were eligible to vote in the polls, with 86 percent of attendance rate, according to Turkey’s semi-official Anatolia news agency.

According to the official projections, the AK party is set to secure 258 MPs, below the 276 seats necessary to form a single-party government in the 550-seat parliament. The CHP, MHP and HDP are projected to secure 132, 81 and 79 seats respectively.

‘Our march will continue’  

The AK party, which currently has 311 seats in parliament, has ruled the country with a single-majority government for the last 13 years.  

“Our nation’s decision is final. Respecting this is a responsibility for all political parties,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a public address from AK party headquarters in Ankara.

“For long marches, 13 years is a short time. There is much more to do. Our blessed march is to continue… We will evaluate the messages to get from the polls and we will continue walking in our way with further determination,” he said.

RELATED: Pro-Kurdish party seeks wider reach in Turkish vote

“Turkey’s democracy proved itself. The ones who tried to stain our democracy are ashamed now.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Davutoglu had campaigned to write a new constitution to bolster the powers of the country’s presidential office. The AK party needed at least 330 seats to unilaterally initiate such a change and take it to a referendum. All the other three main parties are against a presidential system.

The HDP, which was contesting the elections on a liberal platform, was seeking to cross the country’s electoral threshold to make its way to the parliament. The party had independent candidates in the last two polls that significantly decreased the number of the MPs it won through Turkey’s electoral system.

Turkey elections in one minute

“The ones who are authoritarian and arrogant lost, and the ones who are in love with the liberty and peace in Turkey won in the polls,” Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chairperson of the HDP, said in a televised statement.

“We, the oppressed of Turkey, have beaten a government who used all the state’s facilities against us, to attack us… This is the victory of the oppressed and alienated in Turkey,” he added.

Both HDP and CHP officials said that the debate for a presidential system ended in Turkey.

Haluk Koc, the CHP spokesman, said that the AK party became increasingly authoritarian throughout its 13-year government.

“The country has avoided a one-person dictatorship and a civilian coup,” he said, adding that his party was the key party to form the new government. 

‘Voters punished AK party’

Garo Paylan, an HDP candidate from Istanbul who is likely to make his way to the parliament, told Al Jazeera that Turkish voters punished the AK party’s divisive rhetoric.

Listening Post discusses Turkish elections and the future of Turkish journalism

“The results show that the citizens of Turkey have expressed their support for the HDP’s language that has been calling for all the citizens of Turkey to live together in harmony,” Paylan said.

“We want all political parties in Turkey to see this picture and make their contributions to form a new culture for all citizens of this country to live harmoniously together. We will work in the parliament for a new constitution for all people to respectfully live together,” he told Al Jazeera.

Thousands of Kurds in the country’s predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey celebrated the unofficial results, setting off fireworks and waving HDP flags.

The political atmosphere was tense in the region before the polls, with bombings targeting HDP buildings and rallies

“The election results are a big success for the HDP as it has moved from a Kurdish-oriented party to a party that addresses the whole Turkey. It got votes from liberal voters who previously voted for the AK party and CHP and who wanted to block Erdogan and AK party this time,” Deniz Ulke Aribogan, a professor of political science from Istanbul Bilgi University, told Al Jazeera.

“The results show that Turkish citizens want Erdogan to act in line with his position as a neutral president. They don’t want to see him rallying as if he is the leader of the AK party.”

Follow Umut Uras on Twitter: @Um_uras

Source: Al Jazeera