08 June 2015

ISIS' Biggest Ally Suffers Election Rebuke

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had hoped to get a super majority in the Turkish Parliament so that he could grant himself even more powers.

I guess that he felt that his war on the independent judiciary and freedom of the press was simply not proceeding as fast as he would like.

Well, it appears that this was the proverbial bridge too far for Turkish voters, who not only denied him a super majority, but also reduced the number of seats to a plurality in the Turkish legislature:
Turkish voters delivered a rebuke on Sunday to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his party lost its majority in Parliament in a historic election that thwarted his ambition to rewrite Turkey’s Constitution and further bolster his clout.

The results represented a significant setback for Mr. Erdogan, an Islamist who has steadily increased his power since being elected last year as president, a partly but not solely ceremonial post. The prime minister for more than a decade before that, Mr. Erdogan has pushed for more control of the judiciary and cracked down on any form of criticism, including prosecuting those who insult him on social media, but his efforts appeared to have run aground on Sunday.

The vote was also a significant victory to the cadre of Kurds, liberals and secular Turks who found their voice of opposition to Mr. Erdogan during sweeping antigovernment protests two years ago. For the first time, the Kurdish slate crossed a 10 percent threshold required to enter Parliament.

Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., still won the most seats by far, but not a majority, according to preliminary results released Sunday night. The outcome suggests contentious days of jockeying ahead as the party moves to form a coalition government. Already, analysts were raising the possibility Sunday of new elections if a government cannot be formed swiftly. Many Turks were happy to see Mr. Erdogan’s powers curtailed, even though the prospect of a coalition government evokes dark memories of political instability and economic malaise during the 1990s.

With 99 percent of the votes counted, the A.K.P. had won 41 percent of the vote, according to TRT, a state-run broadcaster, down from nearly 50 percent during the last national election in 2011. The percentage gave it an estimated 258 seats in Turkey’s Parliament, compared with the 327 seats it has now.
[There are 550 seats in the Turkish Parliament]

………

The vote turned on the historic performance at the ballot box of Turkey’s Kurdish minority, which aligned with liberals and secular Turks opposed to Mr. Erdogan’s leadership to win almost 13 percent of the vote, passing the legal threshold for earning representation in Parliament.

Selahattin Demirtas, 42, a former human rights lawyer who leads the largely Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, told reporters Sunday night: “As of this hour, the debate about the presidency, the debate about dictatorship, is over. Turkey narrowly averted a disaster.”

The People’s Democratic Party, known as H.D.P., was able to broaden its base by fielding a slate of candidates that included women, gays and other minorities and appealed to voters whose goal was to curtail Mr. Erdogan’s powers.

………

Turkey, a member of NATO, has seen its relations with its Western allies deteriorate, mainly over Syria and the fight against the Islamic State, the militant group that controls vast areas of Iraq and Syria. An American-led coalition has been carrying out an air campaign against the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, for nearly a year, but Western officials complain that Turkey has not done enough, such as allowing its air bases to be used for bombing runs. Critics also partly blame Turkey for the rise of the Islamic State for its early support of Islamist groups in Syria.

………

“The A.K.P. has lost votes, and it’s because of him. People are tired of having their lives dictated by one nutty man. It’s time for change.”
Yes, one nutty man.  Shades of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.  (I told you that I would bring the stories together.

Erdoğan has been cut a lot of slack by the west in general, and the US in particular, because he has initiated a program of  "liberaliation", which generally has the west ignoring all sorts of foibles of the country.  (See how we are actively courting the classically fascist BJP government in India.)

It's easy to understand.  Neoliberal reforms to government and the economy present an opportunity for transnational corporations and Wall Street to loot the Anatolian peninsula on a scale that has not occured since the sack of Constantinople during the 4th Crusade.

BTW, just in case you wondered if my characterization of the Turkish President as, "nutty," I present this:
Demirtas has been the target of fierce campaign attacks by Erdogan, who belittled him a “pretty boy” who is merely a front for the outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Erdogan also called Demirtas an “infidel” after he pledged to abolish the government directorate of religious affairs and likened him to a “pop star” because he plays the saz, a Turkish folk lute.

But Demirtas responded to those barbs with trademark serenity, challenging Erdogan by saying: “We, as the HDP, will transform the lion in your heart to a kitten.”
(emphasis mine)

Meow, President Erdoğan. Meow.

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