By MURAT YETKİN
Turkey is set to have its most critical elections in decades on June 7.
It is particularly critical because President Tayyip Erdoğan has shifted the primary aim of the elections to being more than just forming a new parliament and government with a crushing majority for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti). This would allow them to write a new constitution enabling a strong presidency with more executive powers and fewer checks and balances.
In order to reach that target, Erdoğan needs a two-thirds absolute majority in the 550-seat parliament, which means 367 seats. Alternatively, a three-fifths majority of 330 seats would allow the government to take the new constitution to a referendum. Up to now, Erdoğan has been able to get neither, even though he won a rare 50 percent overall support in the June 2011 elections.
In 2011, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) won 26 percent of the vote, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) got 13 percent, independents with Kurdish support got just over 6 percent, and two religious/right-wing parties – the Felicity Party (SP) and the Great Union Party (BBP) – got a total of 2 percent.
In local elections in March 2014 the vote distribution was (nearly) 46 percent for AK Parti, 27.5 percent for the CHP, 15 percent for the MHP, 6 percent for Kurdish candidates, and 3.1 percent for the SP and the BBP. I mention the latter because the BBP has decided to enter the June 2015 election in an alliance with the SP.
The differentiating factor in this election is the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), with its profile including Turkish socialists and liberals, aiming to extend its program to becoming a “party for the whole of Turkey” as a part of the dialogue process with the government for a political solution to the Kurdish problem. The HDP has this time announced that it will enter as a party to challenge the unfair 10 percent threshold, in order to secure a better presence in parliament. Its predecessors used to take a bypass track of putting forward independent candidates in order to ensure representation at parliament.
According to the latest polls, it is not certain whether the HDP will be able to pass the threshold. However, in order to make projections and consider scenarios for the post-election period, a number of simulation programs are available. One of them has been designed by a group of young engineers and designers for the websitewww.cilekagaci.com (which means “strawberry tree” in Turkish).
The program may not give a 100 percent-reliable projection, but it does give a reasonable idea about what might happen, depending on various support levels and with reference to recent elections.
Here are some projections:
* If the HDP touches the magic 10 percent base, and if neither the CHP nor the MHP can increase their votes above 26 and 13 percent respectively, then in every scenario the AK Parti will get below 41 percent. In this case, the government may not be able to secure 276 seats and will fall without additional support in a coalition.
* If the HDP gets 10 percent and the CHP and the MHP remain the same, then the AK Parti may be able to form a single-party government but it will not be able to reach the magic 330 necessary to take Erdoğan’s super-presidency proposal to a referendum, let alone pass a parliamentary vote without extra support.
* If the HDP cannot get 10 percent and falls under the threshold then, the CHP must get above 30 percent and the MHP nearly 20 percent in order to prevent the AK Parti from forming a single-party government. This is a scenario that is not supported by any of the current polls.
* If the HDP fails to get 10 percent but the CHP or the MHP both increase their support by even 1 percent, then it seems impossible for the AK Parti to reach 330 seats for Erdoğan’s strong-presidency proposal without support from the other parties. This scenario also does not seem likely in Turkey’s current political atmosphere.
Have a look at the website and try out different scenarios for yourself.