Turkey’s opposition braces for general assembly

What is the real source of those 4.5 million new votes for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) this past Nov. 1?
The ruling party took votes from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP), and the Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP). It also walked away with votes that might have otherwise gone to some smaller parties that couldnand’t break into Parliament and independent candidates. Compared with June 7, the Nov. 1 election saw votes for the smaller parties decline, while the number of independent candidates participating also declined. In the June 7 election, the Saadet Party (SP), with 942,027 votes (2.07 percent) picked up more support than any of the other smaller parties unable to make their way into Parliament. But on Nov. 1, the combined votes picked up by the smaller parties and the independent candidates totaled just 1,223,700, or 2.56 percent of the vote.
General voter participation also increased between June 7 and Nov. 1, while the number of invalid votes dropped. To compare, while there were 1,344,224 invalid votes cast on June 7, this dropped to 684,570 in November. Within Istanbul alone, the number of invalid votes dropped from 537,422 in June down to 104,703 on Nov. 1. To get an idea of how many invalid ballots were cast, on June 7, the number of total invalid ballots cast was more than the total number of votes picked up by Turkeyand’s fifth largest party, the SP, in its alliance with the Grand Unity Party (BBP).
While invalid ballot numbers dropped between June and November, there was a reverse trend in voter participation between the two elections. The June 7 election saw 83.92 percent of eligible voters casting ballots, while this percentage rose to 85.69 percent in November, meaning that some 660,000 more people joined the ranks of voters in the meantime.
Many of the voters who declined to head to the ballot boxes for the June 7 election were previous supporters of the AKP who had become disenchanted with the ruling party for this reason, the opposition also failed to pick up these votes. Likewise of course, no political party saw any benefit from the vast number of invalid ballots cast that month.
Voters who were angry with the AKP on June 7 turned against the HDP on Nov. 1. Also, while the number of invalid ballots cast throughout Turkey did decline on Nov. 1 — compared with June 7 — these numbers actually went up in the eastern and southeastern regions where the HDP is strong. It seems that angry voter reaction to the HDPand’s inability to pull itself out of the long shadows cast by the Kurdistan Workersand’ Party (PKK) was reflected not only in failure to vote for the HDP, but through the casting of invalid ballots.
While the CHP leadership had already announced plans to hold a congress by mid-January 2016 at the latest, demands that an extraordinary congress be held have become strong in the wake of the Nov. 1 election. Former deputy Umut Oran was the first CHP politician to announce his candidacy for the position of general leader of the CHP. And on Nov. 7, city bureau CHP leaders announced their decision to begin gathering signatures in support of an extraordinary congress being held, without stating support for any candidate in particular. In the meantime, Yalova deputy Muharrem ince announced at a meeting in Istanbul on Nov. 7 that he would be competing against Kilidaroilu for the party leadership at the next congress. It is also widely anticipated that Izmir deputy Mustafa Balbay will announce his candidacy for this position. As for one one of the ranking party elders, Deniz Baykal, he has said nothing on this matter thus far.
As for CHP leader Kiliandcdaroilu, he is hoping to divide the inner party opposition to him and to be re-elected based on Alevi delegate votes alone.
In the end, it is the Alevi delegate votes that determine who leads this opposition party. As for the HDP, it will also hold its party congress in January. It is widely anticipated that Selahattin Demirtai will carry on with his leadership of the party, while co-chairman Figen Yanduksekdai, who has remained largely in his shadow, will bring hers to a close.
Losing 18 parliamentary seats to the AKP on Nov. 1, the HDPand’s greatest vote losses were incurred in Bingol, Airi, Kars, Bitlis and Van provinces.
As for the opposition MHP, we are hearing much about names like Sinan Oian, Meral Akiener and andumit andOzdai, though no one should expect current leader Devlet Bahandceli to leave the helm of this party until and unless he wishes to, and until he signals who he wants to see take over. When he does decide to indicate who he believes should take the lead, it may well be someone like Sanduleyman Servet Sazak, about whom little is heard as yet these days.


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