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Sunday, June 07, 2015

Breaking: Erdogan's AKP loses parliamentary majority

Given that this is Turkey and that we're talking about President Hussein Obama's Best Friend Forever, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, I suppose that we have to consider the possibility that today's election results will not be honored. Nevertheless, it is significant that in a special election in Turkey that was marred by violence and fraud - both of which may have been perpetrated by Erdogan's AKP - the AKP has lost its parliamentary majority.
The election results represented a significant setback to Mr. Erdogan, an Islamist who has steadily increased his power as president, a partly but not solely ceremonial post, after more than a decade as prime minister, and indicated that Mr. Erdogan’s efforts to accumulate power had run aground. And it was 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.
Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., still won by far the most seats in Parliament, but not a majority, according to preliminary results released Sunday night. The outcome suggested 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 259 seats in Turkey’s Parliament, compared with the 327 seats it has now.
“The outcome is an end to Erdogan’s presidential ambitions,” said Soner Cagaptay, an expert on Turkey and a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Almost immediately, the results raised questions about the political future of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who moved to that position from that of foreign minister last year and was seen as a loyal subordinate of Mr. Erdogan. Mr. Davutoglu, who during the campaign vowed to resign if the A.K.P. did not win a majority, told reporters on Sunday evening in brief comments, “whatever the people decide is for the best.” Mr. Davutoglu was due to speak later in the evening in Ankara.
Mr. Erdogan, who as president was not on the ballot Sunday, will probably remain Turkey’s dominant political figure even if his powers have been rolled back, given his outsized personality and his still-deep well of support among Turkey’s religious conservatives, who form the backbone of his constituency. But even among those supporters, including ones in Kasimpasa, the Istanbul neighborhood where Mr. Erdogan spent part of his youth, there are signs that his popularity is flagging, partly because of his push for more powers over the judiciary and his crackdown on any form of criticism, including prosecutions of those who insult him on social media.
The election 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 a 10 percent legal threshold and earning representation in Parliament. The People’s Democratic Party, a largely Kurdish bloc 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.
The performance positioned the Kurds as kingmakers in the next Parliament, and highlighted the evolution of the Kurdish movement, from the battlefields of the southeast, where a bloody insurgency raged for nearly 30 years, to the halls of power in Ankara, the capital.
“Erdogan’s salvos over the past week show how nervous he is about the outcome of this election,” said Ugur Kaplan, 24, a student who voted in Istanbul. “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.”
 'Nutty'? Despotic is more like it. Here's hoping he goes and soon.

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