MESOP REPORT : Turkey’s 2015 Election Prospects – Rethink Institute | April 2015

1On Sunday, June 7, 2015, Turkish citizens are headed to the polls once again. The elections will be nationwide general elections for 550 seats in the Turkish Parliament. The major issues that have permeated the electoral climate are the potential switch to presidentialism, trampled rights and freedoms, the economic downturn, and the Kurdish question. The prospects for free and fair elections are also frequently contested, given irregularities in the elections of 2014 and increasingly restricted media.

Takeaways from Rethink Paper:Recent polls show that the pro-Kurdish HDP has swung to around 10%, while the pro-Turkish MHP has further increased its share, reaching 16% to 18%. The major opposition party (CHP) has a broader range, from 23% to 29%. Support for the ruling AKP, on the other hand, wavers around 39% to 44%.

The possibility of increasing votes for the pro-Kurdish HDP and the Turkish nationalist MHP is the most intriguing feature of the June elections, as that could be a game changer by determining the number of AKP seats in the Parliament.

Former prime minister and now President Erdoğan has repeated his desire to transform the regime into a presidential system. The ruling AKP, however, needs more seats to be able to change the Constitution in order to realize Erdoğan’s vision.

Turkey’s economy is exposed to further risks, not only by increasing corruption at home, but also by Erdoğan’s authoritarian policies aimed at crushing his opponents.

Major historical fault lines-Sunni vs. Alevi, Turk vs. Kurd, and Islamic vs. Secular-are at play in this election, which invites not only mass fear and securitization at a turbulent time, but also strong patronage politics in everyday life.

There are serious national and international concerns as to whether Turkey will have a truly free and fair general election in June 2015.

There were numerous alleged and documented cases of irregularity and fraud during the voting process in the 2014 local elections. Given how critical the June 2015 general elections are to the future of the country and the tense political climate, a repeat of similar offenses could have devastating social and political consequences.