In a major upset, Turkish voters Sunday cut their support for the ruling Justice and Development Party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and sent a Kurdish party into the national parliament for the first time ever.
With 94 per cent of the votes counted, the ruling party won 41.6 per cent of the vote – translating into 262 seats in the 550-seat parliament. This falls just short of the 271 seats needed for an absolute majority and may force Prime Minister Ahmet Davutogolu into forming a coalition goernment for the first time since 2002.
It is likely to deprive Erdogan, who’s now president and supposedly above politics, of his often stated wish to revamp the constitution and install himself as an “executive president,” with powers equal to that of an American president.
AKP had won 49.95 per cent of the vote in the last general election in 2011, and 44.19 per cent in the municipal elections last year.
The results, broadcast by the major television networks and news agencies here, have not been certified by the national election board.
The other major upset was the success of the Kurdish HDP People’s Democratic Party, which won 11.9 per cent of the vote, equal to 75 seats. The Kurdish party had never previously cleared the 10 per cent hurdle needed to enter the parliament, and while it had many members in parliament they served as independents and could not form a caucus.
The HDP apparently drew Kurdish voters who’d previously supported Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, but had launched a broad appeal designed to attract voters of every stripe who were opposed to Erdogan’s increasingly autocratic style of rule.
The apparent second place winner was the Republican People’s Party, founded by Kemal Ataturk, the father of the Turkish Republic. which won 25.2 per cent of the vote, equal to 136 seats. Finishing third was the Nationalist Movement Party, which won 16.7 per cent of the votes or 83 seats, according to the preliminary results.
Special correspondent Duygu Guvencic contributed from Ankara.