Back on Top: What Erdogan’s Local Elections Victory Means for Turkey

With all the recent tension and turmoil following the ousting of Ukraine’s former leader Viktor Yanukovych and Russia’s subsequent invasion of Crimea, it’s easy to forget about some of the other nations in Eastern Europe. For example, look at Turkey. Even in the face of protests similar to those leading up to the removal of Yanukovych in Ukraine, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) earned over 45% of the vote in recent local elections. For Turkey, this indicates a number of things.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently won over 45% of the vote in local elections, a big victory for both him and his party, the AKP. Image by World Economic Forum.

First, Erdogan’s success at the polls hints at an increasingly divided country. Going into the recent elections, it seemed that movements against Erdogan, especially the politically radical Gulenist faction, were gaining a significant amount of momentum. On top of that, it also appeared as if Erdogan was falling from favor with many Turkish people.

For the past year, protests from both left and right-leaning Turks over issues like internet censorship, Syrian refugees,  Erdogan’s alleged “authoritarianism,” and corruption all seemed to indicate that the AKP was losing political ground after more than a decade in government. The fact that Erdogan still maintained popularity in the local elections despite these protests shows an increasingly divided Turkey which is split along the line of support for Erdogan. Underscoring this division is Erdogan’s promise to pursue those who he calls “traitors” working against him, most notably Fethullah Gulen, de facto leader of the Gulenists.

Second, this victory in local elections could give Erdogan an incentive to continue his tenure as Turkish premier in the 2015 general election. Though his party allows its leaders to only serve three terms, Erdogan has broken official convention before. The Prime Minister also has ambitious goals that he will be unable to see through with just one year left in office, which include revitalizing the Turkish economy (no small feat) and engaging in peace talks with the Kurdish people (also no small feat). Given these large aims, it is likely that Erdogan may run for another term anyway, but the positive results of this year’s local elections will certainly incentivize him to do so.

Third and finally, recent electoral successes for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party may present a solution to the issue of Kurds living in Turkey. The Kurds are an ethnic group living in Southern Turkey that often face discrimination. To address their treatment as second-class citizens both economically and socially, some Kurds formed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, a political and military organization which is dedicated to fighting for Kurdish independence.

In 2013, Erdogan made progress with the PKK by initiating steps towards peace talks, and the results of the local elections may show another victory for Erdogan in this regard. In predominantly Kurdish regions of Turkey, the ballots were overwhelmingly in favor of Erdogan, showing increased cohesion between the Kurds and Erdogan’s party. What this means overall is that in the future, a solution to tensions between the Kurdish people and the Turkish government may be more or less resolved as long as Erdogan or his party stays in power.

Turkey’s political landscape may not be crystal clear quite yet, but one thing is blatantly apparent: despite scandal and protest, Recep Tayyip Erdogan still came out on top.


One Comment

  1. Sur RMC ils disent que le transfert de Lloris avoisinerait les 13M d’euros + des petits bo#s&.Jsn8217;eupere au moins 15M pour rassurer les supporters de son départ ( meme si on sait que ça va etre dur).

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