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Turkey's Repeat Election Returns a Majority For Governing Party

Istanbul, Turkey. 1st November 2015 -- The voting process continues. -- Turks begin voting on Sunday amid worsening security and economic worries in a snap parliamentary election that could profoundly impact the divided country's trajectory and that of President Tayyip Erdogan.

Istanbul, Turkey. November 1, 2015. Photo by Ozcan Soysal. Demotix ID: 8942940.

With most of the votes counted in Turkey’s run-off election, the governing AKP have returned to power with a large majority. As the ruling party celebrated, police clashed with protesters in the largely Kurdish-populated city of Diyarbakir.

While claiming victory, AKP failed to reach the 330 seat super-majority required for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to change the constitution and accrue more powers for the office of President.

The pro-Kurdish party HDP managed to scrape above the 10% threshold needed to win seats in the legislature.

It appears voters deserted the nationalist MHP in favour of AKP as Erdoğan’s strategy for increasing his nationalist support paid off. Some Kurdish voters also seem to have returned to the AKP.

ID: 8942925

Istanbul, Turkey. November 1, 2015. Photo by Ozcan Soysal. Demotix ID: 8942925.

The number of votes for HDP dropped from 6 million to 4.3 million, showing the effectiveness of the government’s strategy to link HDP to the Kurdish PKK militia and blame them for the end of the Kurdish peace process which followed the June elections.

However, many people accused the AKP of electoral fraud.

Government critics pointed to the dramatic increase of votes for AKP in many districts and allegations of fake ballots, with one prominent AKP mayor Tweeting a photo of a stamped ballot hours before polls opened.

One Twitter account compared the number of votes in various districts to the June results.

One Twitter account compared the number of votes in various districts to the June results.

The website of the official Electoral Commission was unavailable throughout most of the evening, increasing speculation about the results.

HDP suggested that they would open a legal investigation into allegations of voting fraud, and complained about the way the elections were conducted.

“We received almost 11% without making any campaign. We just tried to protect our youth and people from attacks and violence,” said HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, referring to the attacks on leftist groups in Ankara on October 10.

As HDP seemed to accept the result of the vote, many expressed disappointment that the opposition parties were not questioning the allegations of fraud more strongly.

Turkey's general elections  has started

Istanbul, Turkey. November 1, 2015. Photo by Ozcan Soysal. Demotix ID: 8942920

Meanwhile there was despondency among more educated and liberal Turkish people, many expressing on social media that they had lost faith in Turkish politics and wanted to leave the country.

‘To those who claimed I could not even go to Edirne [in Turkey], I am in Switzerland and as a political answer, as of today, I have left Turkey!’

Most worrying was unrest in Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish-populated city in Turkey and a node of unrest and tension following the first general election in June.

As Turkey looks forward to another 4 years of AKP government, Professor Erik Tillman reminded the opposition that there are some silver linings:

The result leaves President Erdogan in an awkward position. He is an aging but highly ambitious man occupying an office which is supposed to be ceremonial in nature.

The AKP has to decide how to deal with his power within the party and determine how to transfer that power to a new generation of politicians, especially given that he has become such a divisive figure in the republic.

Erdogan, however, has proven that he is not done yet. In fact, he has shown every sign of being prepared to lash out at his critics — especially those in the media —  and no sign of being prepared to take a political backseat.

For more background on Turkey's November 1 General Election see: Polls Closed After Turkey Votes in Second Crucial Election this Year.

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