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Turkish Elections of June 12, 2011: Now What?

Turkish Elections of June 12, 2011: Now What?

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This policy brief outlines possible next steps for the newly elected Turkish parliament.
This policy brief outlines possible next steps for the newly elected Turkish parliament.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: German Marshall Fund of the United States on Jun 16, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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: Results from theJune 12 election indicate thatTurkey maintained a moderatepluralist party system in structurein the parliament, consisting of  the same four parties that werepreviously serving. But it looks asif Turkey is gearing up to becomeanother example of predomi-nant party system soon. Shortof making a constitution that isconsidered as politically, legally,and morally binding for thepolitical elites of Turkey, it will be
difcult to assume that Turkish
democracy is fully consolidated.The stage seems to be set for astart of negotiations for a civilian-made democratic constitution inTurkey. The governing AKP needs
 the support of at least ve more
deputies from other parliamen- tary groups.The Turkish politicalelites are good at confronting 
and ghting each other, but they
seem not to be as capable orintent upon working togetheras government and opposi- tion. The summer months mayproduce a period of cooling off for the political elites and for theRepublican People’s Party andNationalist Action Party to settle their intra-party accounts beforeOctober.
urkey’s 17
national elections since1946 were held on Sunday June 12,2011, with 15 political parties anddozens o independent candidatesrunning or the 550 seats in thesingle chamber o the urkish GrandNational Assembly (BMM). O theindependent candidates who repre-sented Kurdish ethnic nationalists, 36seemed to have won parliamentary seats, which is more than enough orthem to establish a parliamentary group o the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Te governing conser- vative Justice and DevelopmentParty (AKP) has increased its voteshare rom 46.5 percent in 2007 to49.9 percent, yet its seat share in theurkish Grand National Assembly (BMM) seems to have allen rom341 to 326. Te AKP seems to be a ewseats short o the super majority o 60percent o the seats, which is requiredto pass a constitutional amendment.Te secular, social democratic Repub-lican People’s Party (CHP), which hada leadership change in May 2010, wasable to increase its vote share rom 20.8percent in 2007 to 25.9 percent and itsparliamentary seats rom 112 to 135.Finally, the urkish ethnic NationalistAction Party (MHP), which was hitby scandalous revelations o personal
 Turkish Elections of June 12, 2011:Now What?
Ersin Kalaycıoğlu
June 16, 2011
, DC
misconduct by some o its leadingcandidates that resulted in theirresignation, lost its vote share rom14.3 percent in 2007 to 13 percentand parliamentary seats rom 71 to53. Te participation rate in the 2011elections was 87 percent, and about95 percent o the electorate now has atleast a deputy representing them in theBMM.Tese results indicate that urkey maintained a moderate pluralist party system in structure in the BMM,consisting o the same our parties thatwere previously serving. However, it isstill dominated by a large but simplemajority (59 percent) o the leadingAKP, which has won the last threenational elections including 2011.It looks as i urkey is gearing up tobecome another example o predomi-nant party system soon, just like Japanunder the LDP rule rom 1955 until1993, or India rom 1947 till 1987under the Congress Party rule, orSweden rom the 1920s until the 1970sunder the Social Democrats. Tat said,the opposition CHP has also increasedits presence in the BMM and theKurdish ethnic nationalists have alsoreceived their highest share o theseats yet and have garnered 6.7 percento the national vote, while the MHP
seemed to have lost some ground. What sorts o challengeslie ahead or this new assembly?
Democratic Consolidation and Civilian,Democratic Constitution
What seems to be awaiting the 24
Assembly o the urkishRepublic is the daunting task o writing and adopting abrand new constitution. Although the election campaignwas not ully ocused on the dierent proposals o theparties or the substance o the new constitution, it seemsas i the AKP, CHP, and the BDP have committed them-selves to the making o a new constitution instead o thecurrent constitution made by the last military governmentin 1982. Te MHP seemed to be the only party complacentwith the constitution. Short o making a constitution thatis considered as politically, legally, and morally binding orthe political elites o urkey, it will be dicult to assumethat urkish democracy is ully consolidated. I such a stepis taken, then it will be possible to assume that bickeringabout the undamentals o the constitutional order, whichhas been creating one legitimacy crisis aer another sinceurkey aspired to democracy in 1945, has come to an end.It would also be possible then or the judiciary to resolvethe political conicts o the day with reerence to that newconstitution and without being accused o being partisanand political in its decisions. Te question then becomeswhether a new, democratic, and civilian-made constitu-tion that is written with the ull participation o the mainpolitical parties and orces o the country is possible now, ornot?
Constitutional Engineering: Devil is in the Details
Te stage seems to be set or a start o negotiations ora civilian-made democratic constitution in urkey. Tegoverning AKP needs the support o at least fve moredeputies rom other parliamentary groups. It is also impor-tant to remember that any move by the AKP alone will beconsidered partisan, automatically triggering conspiracy theorizing about its motives and precipitating a majorpolitical conict. Te CHP and the BDP seem to be willingto cooperate in writing up a new constitution. And theparty maniesto o the AKP is vague enough to provide itwith huge exibility. Te only glitch seems to be that PrimeMinister Recep ayyip Erdoğan has been promoting amajor democratic regime change, rom the current parlia-mentary democratic structure to some orm o presiden-tialism, over which not only the other political party elitesbut some o his own AKP ront bench have already declaredtheir doubts. A debate over presidentialism may derail theprocess. However, i the ludicrous proposal o presiden-tialism can be avoided, then do we have the basic ingredi-ents o a negotiation process or a new constitution?Te answer to that question is less than an unequivocalyes. Te 2011 election campaign consisted mainly o ad hominem attacks, acrimony, and slanderous aggres-sion used as oratorical style in the speeches, especially o Erdoğan toward all o the opposition party leaders andparties. Te opposition party leaders also seemed to beengaged in similar rhetoric toward the AKP and its leader.For example, the leader o the CHP Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu,seemed to have taken some joy (which he later denied) roma placard that insinuated that only those without brains voted or the AKP, and that Erdoğan claimed that he wasnot the “shameless, immoral, and scum” that Kılıçdaroğluis. Kılıçdaroğlu had declared that he will sue the primeminister or slander and insults, and Devlet Bahçeli, theleader o the MHP, also demands an apology.Currently, the BDP is the only party whose elected candi-dates are continuing with defant and provocative declara-tions, more or less attempting to blackmail the AKP andthe CHP. Tey seem to be insinuating that i those twoparties go ahead with negotiations and keep the BDP out,the BDP will urther mount its attacks to delegitimize theconstitution-making process. Kılıçdaroğlu has declared thathe is ready or dialogue with the prime minister. Te AKP
The question becomes whethera new, democratic, and civilian-made constitution that is writtenwith the full participation of themain political parties and forcesof the country is possible now,or not?

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