Election day in Ankara
Election day in Ankara | Photo: Photo : Sandro Weltin/Council of Europe | CC BY ND 2.0

Local elections in Turkey: Can they steer the future of Turkish politics?

The Turkish local elections showed interesting results: the AKP’s alliance gained the majority of the votes (51,67%), while the opposition managed to take over – according to the unofficial results – the key cities such as the capital Ankara and the finance capital Istanbul from the AKP. Even though it can be perceived as an overall success for Erdoğan’s alliance, it might also suggest a decrease in electorates’ support for the AKP’s politics and desire for change in the current political system. Now new challenges –and new conflicts- can be expected for the opposition and the government, which might influence the future of Turkish politics.

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Stimmzettel der Wahlen 2018 | Photo: Hedda Gabler | CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

New Alliances and Old Traditions in Turkish Politics

For the first time in Turkey, political parties were allowed to build electoral alliances for parliamentary elections, and curious alliances did enter the political stage. Especially the “Nation Alliance” (Millet İttifakı) which was initiated by the centre-left main apposition CHP, the nationalist IYI Party and the small religious party SP constitute an interesting case. This ideologically hybrid alliance aimed to attract different segments of the society in order to overcome the AKP’s majority in parliament. The Nation Alliance, however, won only 33,94% whereas the so called “People’s Alliance (Cumhur İttifakı)” composed of the AKP and the MHP gained 53,66%. This contribution to the blog aims to analyse whether there is more behind the Nation Alliance than short-term election tactics.

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Meral Akşener at IYI Party's first congress in October 2017
Meral Akşener at IYI Party's first congress in October 2017 | Photo: Yıldız Yazıcıoğlu (VOA) | Public Domain

What’s in a Name? IYI Party – Good for Turkey?

A new political party was founded in Turkey on 25 October 2017. Named the “IYI Party”, meaning “good party”, it claims to bring betterment for Turkey’s financial, judicial and also human rights situation. The inaugural speech of the party’s founder, Meral Akşener, leaves an impression of the “modern” face of Turkish conservative politics. The IYI Party presents itself as an alternative to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in times of a growing dissatisfaction with Turkish politics and reorientations in opposition parties’ political stance. Although the idea that the AKP era might come to an end is intriguing, the Akşener’s party seems to follow the well-known narrative of Turkish nationalism. For a truly pluralist democracy in Turkey, this is not enough.

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