Istanbul, Turkey. – The results of the June 7 Turkish parliamentary elections clearly demonstrated that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) founded by Recep Erdogan runs out of support from the population.
According to the interim results the party received less than a half of votes, 40.7% or 256 seats in the parliament. That will limit the Party’s ability to govern the state without paying attention to the other political forces’ viewpoints. For comparison, at the previous elections in 2011 out of 550 seats AKP gained 49.8% and 327 seats.
In Turkey the elections were followed closely since the results were supposed to directly affect the potential to redesign the constitutional system by turning the parliamentary Turkey into a presidential republic and granting Erdogan new authoritative powers.
Now the formal leader of the party Ahmet Davutoğlu faces a challenging task to form a governmental coalition together with representatives of the opposition. However, it seems like he does not have a wide choice of allies.
Under the Turkish law the main obstacle for a political party to get into the parliament (The Grand National Assembly of Turkey) is the electoral threshold of 10%. This time three more parties secured their representation on a required level. Based on preliminary results pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) for the first time ever managed to obtain 13%, far right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) received 16.5% and left-of-center Republican People's Party (CHP) gained 25.1%.
HDP’s result appeared to be a total surprise for many. Even though the Kurds constitute one fifth of the country’s population, never in history was this ethnic minority represented in the parliament. Meanwhile the governmental policy that is characterized with charges in espionage, state treason and real imprisonment following any, even insignificant, disagreements with those in power, forced many people to give their votes to the Kurdish party as well as to the others – if only not to Erdogan’s AKP. The Kurds met election results with countrywide joy since now they have 79 seats in the parliament. The fact itself that they got over the electoral threshold means there emerged one more political force of great importance in Turkey.
An attempt of the ruling party to change the voting system in 2013 and decrease the threshold that was introduced more than 20 years ago has failed. In case this threshold had been substantially lower, those dissatisfied with the policy of the government would not have had motivation to vote for HPD in a “coordinated” manner. It would not potentially have overpassed 10%, would not have “off-taken” AKP’s votes and thus would not have deprived it of its dominating position in the parliament. Just after the results were announced the HDP chairman Selahattin Demirtaş stated that his party under all conditions will not cooperate with AKP. That is hardly a surprise because Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of ideologically allied Kurdistan Workers' Party, serves a life sentence on the Turkish İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara as from 1999.
The far right Nationalist Movement Party (16.5%, 82 seats) insists on ethno-cultural supremacy of the Turkish nation and places less importance on religion. As well as HDP, it also does not strain after cooperation with political competitors. At the press-conference in Ankara on Monday, June 8th, the leader of nationalists Devlet Bahçeli stated that his party would be the main opposition force in case of the others’ coalition. Despite the fact that earlier he admitted the strategic coalition with AKP in case there is no Kurds in it, his statement was rather of declarative character. Moreover in this very point in time an alliance between the nationalist party with the party lobbying in fact for the dominant role of Islam in the Turkish society seems hardly probable.
Partially because of that the number one in the list of the candidates to form the governmental coalition with AKP is left-of-center Republican People's Party (25.1%, 133 seats). Already in April its leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu announced his party’s readiness to enter the coalition if it is necessary and under the conditions of a free and independent justice system and mass media in Turkey. Taking into account relevant trends, he now has a hard choice ahead.
In case no coalition is formed during 45 days after elections, Erdogan is entitled to appoint new elections with a view to tip the balance of forces in the parliament and come out of the period of political uncertainty. As always, any uncertainty costs a lot: just after the elections Turkish lira held an anti-record compared to US dollar.
Political instability in Turkey is, of course, not to the benefit of Russia since any momentous decision on an international issue is in fact postponed until the moment Ankara gets out of the political crisis.
Among other things is the Turkish Stream’s destiny. It is worth having in mind that the construction of the competitive Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline is underway on schedule.
That is why it is of high importance to asses all the statements of the Turkish authorities taking into account the internal political environment, especially those made recently. Last but not least it relates to the words of the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yıldız with regard to the readiness to start the construction of the on-shore part of the Turkish Stream. The minister made a statement just two days before elections that bring an end to his work on that position since it is prohibited according to the Turkish law to perform minister’s duties more than three times in a row.
Coalition development might bring about inconsistent foreign policy given the fact that it will consist of the forces studying their own interests and playing upon political tensions for the sake of populist claims and ideas. In the meanwhile it helps to remember that Erdogan with his power and authority will definitely make every possible effort to make all political forces in the country engage with each other and eventually find common ground.
The visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Russia on April 6-8 was widely covered in the media and caused a new wave of enthusiasm about the future of Russian-Chinese relations. However, Wang's trip was rather technical in nature, being made in preparation for the visit of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to Moscow to take part in ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the allied victory in World War II.
Although recently Russians have started to pay more attention to its soft power projection in different parts of the world, Moscow has a long way to go to make itself look more attractive on this front. The Middle East is no exception.
After threatening to shoot Russian law-enforcement forces deployed in Chechnya without his permission back in April and then backing what appeared to be a forced wedding between a 17-year-old girl and a 47-year-old married police chief, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov is continuing to embarrass the Kremlin in public.
On Dec. 15, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met in Moscow, after which they both talked with President Vladimir Putin. Then, on Dec. 17, Vladimir Putin held his traditional year-end press conference, during which he answered questions, many of which dealt with foreign policy issues.