Turkey: Erdogan wins rigged vote, but left-wing HDP breaks threshold

HDP supporters demand the release of presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas, in front of Istanbul's courthouse on May 21.

Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won 53% of the vote in the June 24 presidential election.

This extends his rule until at least 2023 — but, notes The Region, now with the sweeping executive powers narrowly endorsed in a referendum last year.

The Region said Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) fared less well, taking 43% in the parliamentary election held on the same day. But, allied with the hard-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which won 11%, it will have a parliamentary majority.

The Kurdish-led left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP) — which has been strongly persecuted by Erdogan’s regime and with leaders and many activists in jail — broke the 10% threshold needed to enter parliament, winning 11%. HDP presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas won 8.4% of the vote from his jail cell.

After the vote, the HDP’s European representative Eyyup Doru noted the legislative and presidential elections took place in a climate of tension and insecurity. Doru noted the “context of a constantly renewed state of emergency, since the failed coup of July 15, 2016, [the] date on which the government has hastened to extend its control in the various cities of the country by controlling the court system and the resulting orders of jurisdiction (administrative, judicial and military)”.

Doru said: “This approach has also allowed the ruling regime to proceed to mass arrests of hundreds of mayors legitimately elected in the Kurdistan region and replace them with appointed trustees by the central state.

“The leaders and members of our party were once again hit hard during this campaign, with more than 9000 arrests and the murder of three of our supporters in Suruç.

“The acquisition of one of the last major media groups, Dogan Haber, by one of the president’s relatives, allowed him to complete his control over the media in Turkey. It is therefore under circumstances of total control of the independent press that the entire election campaign took place before these early elections (shortened abruptly by 18 months).

“Despite these conditions of imbalances, we once again exceeded the mandatory threshold of 10% to enter the parliament and also obtained more votes compared to previous elections, with subsequently passing from 59 to 68 the number of our deputies.”

“We therefore maintain our position as the third largest force in parliament,” Doru said, “and remain the leading party in the Kurdish region.”

Doru said the victory of the AKP, in alliance with the extreme right, resulted from “massive electoral fraud”. Despite this, they “could not win the coveted qualified majority that would have made possible a change in the constitution to expand his [powers]. The AKP has therefore not achieved its objectives and will be dependent on the far right to obtain a simple majority in parliament.

“The situation of distress in which the country has been plunged for several years and the alarming deterioration of the various fundamental principles provides us with an uncertain future, but that does not discourage us at all. On the contrary, it encourages us to continue our struggle for democracy in the months and years to come, no matter what new obstacles are already in progress to clog our way.”