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In surprise blow, Turkish ruling party lose majority

In a sensational result that shakes-up Turkey's political landscape, the ruling AKP party will now have to form a coalition

Published: Updated:

In a stunning blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's Islamic-rooted AKP ruling party lost its absolute parliamentary majority in legislative elections on Sunday, meaning it will have to form a coalition for the first time since it came to power.

In a sensational result that shakes-up Turkey's political landscape, the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) easily surpassed the 10 percent barrier needed to send MPs to parliament.

Turkey’s most popular yet most divisive politician, Erdogan had sought a large majority for the ruling AK Party to boost his powers by moving the country towards a U.S.-style presidential system. Yet now, the prospect of making constitutional change on the AKP's terms seems to be over.

Supporters light flares as they celebrate early election results outside the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) headquarters in Diyarbakir, Turkey, June 7, 2015. (Reuters)
Supporters light flares as they celebrate early election results outside the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) headquarters in Diyarbakir, Turkey, June 7, 2015. (Reuters)

“Voters said a clear no to the presidential system,” the CHP’s Istanbul chairman, Murat Karayalcin, told reporters on Sunday.

Speaking shortly after the count came in, the leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) ruled out a coalition with the AK Party on Sunday and said that the results of a parliamentary election had put an end to discussion about a presidential system.

“The discussion of executive presidency and dictatorship have come to an end in Turkey with these elections,” Selahattin Demirtas told a news conference in Istanbul, Reuters reported.

The result was a triumph for the HDP, which in the campaign had sought to present itself as a genuinely Turkish party and reach out to voters beyond its main Kurdish support base to secular Turks, women and gays.

The ‘Kurdish Obama’

It was also a personal victory for Demirtas, dubbed the “Kurdish Obama” by some for his silky rhetorical skills and who had been repeatedly attacked by Erdogan in the campaign.

Co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas (L) and Figen Yuksekdag celebrate inside party's headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey, June 7, 2015. (Reuters)
Co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas (L) and Figen Yuksekdag celebrate inside party's headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey, June 7, 2015. (Reuters)

“We, as the oppressed people of Turkey who want justice, peace and freedom, have achieved a tremendous victory today,” Demirtas told a news conference in Istanbul.

“Now the HDP is a real party of Turkey. HDP is Turkey and Turkey is HDP,” he said.

He said there would be no coalition with the AKP and instead the HDP would make a “strong and honest opposition”.

HDP MPs had sat in the previous parliament but they had been elected as independents and not from a party list.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, centre, accompanied by his wife Emine, left, holds his ballot as he prepares to vote at a polling station in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, June 7, 2015. (AP)
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, centre, accompanied by his wife Emine, left, holds his ballot as he prepares to vote at a polling station in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, June 7, 2015. (AP)

In Turkey’s main Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, cars are cruised through the streets, with drivers honking and people hanging out from windows making ‘V’ signs as gunshots were fired into the air.

The result however is a disappointment for the CHP, which has again struggled to present itself as a credible main opposition.

Analysts see the nationalist MHP as the most likely coalition partner for the AKP in the new parliament.

No equal distance

Erdogan’s heavy involvement in the campaign in favor of the AKP had been controversial, given that as head of state he is required to keep an equal distance from all parties.

The president, who was spending the evening in Istanbul rather than Ankara, has yet to react to the results. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who led the campaign, is due to give a statement in Ankara.

Supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) ride on a truck as they celebrate along a street after the parliamentary election in Diyarbakir, Turkey, June 7, 2015. (Reuters)
Supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) ride on a truck as they celebrate along a street after the parliamentary election in Diyarbakir, Turkey, June 7, 2015. (Reuters)

The AKP secured 41 percent of the vote, followed by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) on 25 percent, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on 16.5 and the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) fourth on 12.5 percent.

Turnout was 86 percent.

According to the official seat projection, the AKP will have 259 seats in the 550-seat parliament, the CHP 131, the MHP 82 and the HDP 78.