Turkey, again

Turkey goes to the polls today (Sunday) for its second election for the year. My previous posts on the topic provide most of the information you’ll need: here’s the preview of the first election, in June; here’s my report on its result; and here’s my explanation of how the second election came about.

This was the conclusion of that most recent post:

If that tactic [of depressing the Kurdish vote] fails, the same parties will find themselves back in parliament in November with much the same numbers and therefore the same problem. And here’s where the exhortation comes in: to save Turkish democracy, it will be imperative in that situation that the opposition parties, despite their major ideological differences, find a way come together.

It need not be a full-scale coalition, but the three – who between them represent about 55% of Turkish voters – need to reach an agreement on who will be in government and on a set of basic measures to take to rein in their over-ambitious president. Once that’s done they can go back to hating one another, but for now, if the voters again give them a majority, they need to use it.

As true as it was then, and as unlikely. Opinion polls show that the June result is likely to be repeated – the governing AKP may gain a point or two, but not enough for a majority. The government has used its full range of dirty tricks, but unless it resorts to actual ballot stuffing or the like, the three opposition parties will probably retain their majority.

The question then is what they’ll do with it. The problem is that the two smaller opposition parties – the hard-right MHP and the Kurdish-leftist HDP – are so far removed from each other that no co-operation seems possible. And without that, the only way to rein in the AKP and its authoritarian strongman, president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, will be for one of the opposition parties to go into coalition with it and secure a curtailment of Erdoğan’s powers as a quid pro quo.

A lot of elections are the subject of overblown claims, but in this one it really does seem as if the future of Turkish democracy is at stake.

Turnout is expected to be high (in June it was 83.9%). Polls close at 5pm local time (daylight saving has been extended for the occasion), or 2am in eastern Australia. The Turkish government’s press agency has a good English-language election site; expect results to appear there before breakfast time tomorrow.

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