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The winners of Türkiye s May 14 elections

The winners of Türkiye’s May 14 elections

After the presidential and parliamentarian elections held in Türkiye on May 14, Turkish and external observers analyzed the results to determine the winners or the losers. In this article, I will try to evaluate the winners of the elections.

After the presidential and parliamentarian elections held in Türkiye on May 14, Turkish and external observers analyzed the results to determine the winners or the losers. In this article, I will try to evaluate the winners of the elections. The first winner of the elections is the Turkish state. As President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan explained, not only he and his party but also the Turkish people as a whole won the elections. There are several reasons why Türkiye is the ultimate winner. The first indication is the record-high turnout (88.9%), which shows the awareness of the Turkish people and the maturity of Turkish democracy. Compared to Western countries, the voter turnout in the last elections is a significant indication of the power of the people, who have the right to change the government if they believe it is necessary. The second indication is the large participation and representation, which shows the strength of the Turkish political system. More than 30 political parties ran in the elections and 16 of them (five parties from the People’s Alliance, seven parties from the Nation Alliance, and four parties from the Labor and Freedom Alliance) will be represented in the Turkish Parliament. The Turkish Parliament reflects the national will of the Turkish people. Different and conflictual ideologies from the radical left to ultra-right and different ethnic and sectarian identities will be represented in the assembly.

Erdoğan and his party

The second winner of the elections is Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AK Party). Despite of ups and downs, Erdoğan and the AK Party have come first in all elections since the party's establishment in 2001. Although Erdoğan holds a 5% lead, the presidential elections have advanced to the second round. As a result, observers do not expect a surprise result in the second vote. On the other hand, the deputies from the People’s Alliance will constitute the majority of Parliament with 322 members. That is, Erdoğan and the AK Party will dominate both the executive and the legislative branches for the next five years.

Alawite identity

The third winner of the elections is the Alawite identity, which was suppressed for decades. For the first time an Alawite candidate, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), has become a presidential candidate and his sectarian identity was not questioned by the general public. Considering that at least more than half of the total votes (almost 25 million) that he received were cast by the Sunnis, these elections have shown the high level of integration of Turkish society. Kılıçdaroğlu even underlined his Alawite identity in order to consolidate its supporters. Some of his supporters went further and claimed that he is coming from a respected “dede” family and from the family of the Prophet Muhammad. Before the elections, many supporters have declared that they would vote for his/her “dede” or “piro,” two religious titles used by the Alawites in Türkiye. The Alawites in the country did not conceal their identity while casting their votes.

Kurdish identity

The fourth winner of the elections is the Kurdish identity for two main reasons. One, different political parties representing the Kurdish people such as the Green Left Party (YSP), the Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR) and the Rights and Freedoms Party (HAK-PAR) ran in the elections and two of them, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) running under the YSP and HÜDA-PAR, will be represented in Parliament. This is a historical moment as the first time more than one “Kurdish party” will be represented at Parliament. Four members of the HÜDA-PAR elected from the AK Party list have become members of Parliament. The monopoly of the leftist-oriented political party supported by the PKK was broken. Diversification of the Kurdish politics will contribute to the consolidation of the Turkish democratic culture. Two, as a result of the reforms made by the AK Party within the last two decades, these political parties freely used the Kurdish language during their election campaigns.

Winning bloc

Fifth, the conservative and nationalist bloc, "yerli ve milli" in Turkish, and the political bloc that supports Türkiye’s political independence have won the elections. Large segments of society cast their votes to consolidate the democratic polity and to protect Türkiye’s autonomy. Many consider this large group an indication of the rise of ultra-nationalism in Türkiye, but it is not. This large coalition is in favor of the political independence and territorial integrity of Türkiye. They do not want these two characteristics of the state to be questioned. Taking the Western intervention in Turkish domestic affairs and their declared support for the opposition, the Turkish people have raised concerns about the future of the country. The general public has begun to see the elections as a survivability issue.

Deeds, not words

Sixth, the deeds have won the elections, not the words or promises. On the one hand, Erdoğan and the AK party have completed major projects showing the Turkish people that they can solve the problems the country faces. Huge infrastructure projects, the efficient struggle of the government against the COVID-19 pandemic, effective measures taken after the earthquake disaster in the south of the country and innovations in high technology, especially in the defense industry, have all secured the trust of the Turkish people toward Erdoğan and his government. Therefore, the Turkish people have shown that they still trust Erdoğan and his allies. On the other hand, Kılıçdaroğlu and his associates have made many promises, most of which are not feasible. In the end, the Turkish people did not trust the opposition. All these various winners indicate that Erdoğan and the AK Party have significantly transformed the country and enhanced the unity of the Turkish people. Social and political diversification, which can be considered on the silent revolutions (sessiz devrim) of the AK Party governments, achieved in the elections is one of the products of this transformation. [Daily Sabah, May 24, 2023]