In the June 7 Turkish elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has ruled Turkey since 2002, won the largest vote and share of the new parliament – 258 of the 550 seats. But in a dramatic rise in its vote, the left-wing People's Democratic Party (HDP) came equal third, winning 80 seats.
Erdogan had been campaigning for the AKP to win a three-fifth's majority, which would have enabled it to submit constitutional changes to referendum, changes that would create an executive presidency with authoritarian powers. But its vote fell, losing its simple majority that had allowed it to govern without forming a coalition.
The result was in several ways a victory for the HDP. Under Turkey's constitution, candidates contest single-member electorates, as in the US, Britain and Australia. But to enter parliament, candidates not only need to win their electorate, their party must win at least 10% of the vote nationwide.
If the HDP had polled under 10%, most of the electorates they won would have gone to the AKP. By polling over the thresh-hold, the HDP thwarted Erdogan's plans for constitutional change and became a significant force in parliament.
To achieve this, the party expanded its support beyond its base in the Kurdish majority south-east of the country.
It did so by uniting socialist, feminist, LGBTI, ethnic and religious minority, environmentalist, youth rights and disability rights organisations and movements on a program of radical democracy, social, ethnic and religious inclusion and opposition to neoliberalism.
HDP Co-Chairpersons Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag made the following statements at a press conference in Istanbul on June 7.
Those who support freedom, democracy and peace won this election. Those who consider themselves the sole owners of Turkey lost. This victory is the collective victory of Armenians, Bosnians, Ezidis, Circassians, of all ethnic identities, of workers, of the unemployed, of villagers, shop owners, of all those whose labour is being exploited.
This victory is the collective victory of those who want a democratic civilian constitution in this country, of those who stand against the September 12 military coup constitution and the election threshold it imposed.
This victory is the victory of those who want peace in the “Kurdish question”. And more than all, this victory is the collective victory of women. We stand for everything we said in squares and rallies. The HDP is now truly a party of the whole of Turkey.
We won’t disappoint those who trusted us with their votes so that the path of democratic politics in Turkey is cleared. We will work harder to convince those who trusted us with their votes in this election.
The debate in Turkey over a presidential system, a dictatorship, has ended as of this moment.
It wasn’t a top-down mentality, a mentality of conspiracy that made this magnificent victory possible; it was collective intelligence. I extend my thanks to all the components that make up the HDP.
We once again say “God rest their souls” to our friends who lost their lives during our election campaign.
Esteemed [imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah] Ocalan has always been supportive of us in our policy of collective life, a civilian solution and a peaceful solution. His role in the solution process is of great significance in this success.
Our campaign was funded not by the state budget, but by voluntary sacrifices. We thank everyone who gave us their financial support.
The HDP’s new goal is coming to power. From now on, the HDP’s sun will prove enough for all 81 provinces, the AKP’s light bulb is no longer necessary.
We will not form a coalition with the AKP. We will keep our promise.
This is a very joyful embrace. The peoples of Turkey, torn apart from each other, are now experiencing the joy of embracing each other.
Our greatest gain is the manifestation of the power of good in place of this form of politics that has passed its sell-by-date.
The 10% election threshold was an embarrassment. Those who are today buried now under the anti-democratic debris are those who imposed this threshold, and those who have since defended it. Together, we will clear the wreckage of the current political mentality. We will create Turkey anew, so that a new life can flourish.
Turkey does not want to be forced to the rule of a single man, the junta of a single party. Turkey wants to work together and produce together. The result our party has achieved is a reflection of this awareness.”
I respectfully salute all our friends who accompanied us in this success.
The June 7 victory is also a victory for women. I say this with great joy, 40% of our members of parliament are women. We aimed for 50%, nevertheless, this is a great leap for the history of politics in Turkey.
We will continue to stand together, as we have done to this day.