Turkey had its first ever popular vote presidential elections yesterday on the 10th August 2014, in which three candidates took part in: PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ekmeleddin Mehmet Ihsanoglu and Selahattin Demirtas. To the well-known news agencies’ unofficial election results, the percentages of the total votes are as follows:
|Candidate||Votes||Number of Votes|
Based on the above-mentioned results, PM Erdogan becomes the 12th President of Turkish Republic as he manages to win more than 50% of the valid votes, even though this amount corresponds to the 37% of the total registered electorate.
The first and foremost startling point of this election is that turnout rates remained apparently lower than the previous local and general elections. For instance, whereas turnout rates were 89% and 91% in Istanbul and Ankara for the local elections in March 2014, in presidential elections they are reflected as 71% and 76% respectively. 74% overall turnout to the elections seems to have a significant impact on reaching the conclusion in the first round. To the preliminary observations and analysis, the main reasons behind this lower rate can be enumerated as unsatisfied voters’ decision to boycott the elections, summer holiday, and lastly university students’ as well as seasonal workers’ inability to cast their votes in their own constituencies.
51.8% is sufficiently enough for Erdogan to become the first president of Turkey elected by popular vote, which will give him the leverage to redesign certain aspects of the state apparatus in the upcoming days. However, this delicate percentage would lead him to reconsider his stance and discourse for further policy-making decisions in particular his ambition to initiate a constitutional change in the current parliamentarian system.
Although Ihsanoglu was nominated for the presidential elections by two mainstream opposition parties (CHP and MHP) on the basis of aiming to attract the median voter preferences, 38% signifies that his lower popularity in the eyes of Turkish public alongside with lack of charismatic leadership prevented him to win the elections. On the other hand, Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtas performed relatively well during the elections and increased the votes of his party to almost 10%. Besides, his stance would make a contribution to the political life in Turkey as long as he keeps up the encompassing democratic discourse in the further public discussions.
The election results might have a number of reflections on the Turkish politics. Firstly, if Erdogan intends to put his pre-election viewpoint into action, then the status of democracy and rule of law in Turkey would exacerbate. Secondly, competition for new leadership would result in controversy among the different groups within AK Party. Thirdly, Ihsanoglu’s failure in the elections may encourage dissidents in CHP and MHP to speak up against current leadership. And finally, Kurdish political actors are likely to become publicly more visible as well as to be active in the Turkey’s lingering problems.