AKP Power Diminished, Lira at Record Low

AKP Power Diminished, Lira at Record LowAKP Power Diminished, Lira at Record Low

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its absolute parliamentary majority in legislative elections on Sunday, while the country’s main Kurdish party gained enough support to enter parliament.

Meanwhile, the Turkish lira hit a record low on Monday after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party failed to win an overall majority. The lira fell to 2.81 against the US dollar, about 5 percent weaker than Friday's close of 2.66.

For much of last month, the lira had been hovering around 2.6, and has tumbled by about 20 percent against the dollar so far this year, making it one of the worst performing emerging market currencies. Stocks in Istanbul dropped nearly 6 percent in morning trading.

The AKP won the biggest share of the vote in the elections, but well down on the almost 50 percent it recorded in the previous 2011 polls. The loss of the majority will be a blow to Erdogan’s ambition to expand his powers.

In a sensational result that shakes up Turkey’s political landscape, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) surpassed the 10 percent barrier needed to send MPs to parliament.

The AKP secured 41 percent of the vote, followed by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) on 25 percent, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on 16.5 and the HDP sitting fourth on 12.5 percent, said official results, France24 reported.

According to official results, the AKP will have 258 seats in the 550-seat parliament, the CHP 132, the MHP 80 and the HDP 80.

Under Turkey’s proportional representation system, the AKP will need to form a coalition for the first time since it first came to power in 2002.

The AKP has dominated Turkish politics since it first came to power in 2002 but has suffered from a dip in economic growth and increasing opposition against Erdogan’s policies.

The result put an end to Erdogan’s dream of agreeing a new constitution to switch Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system that he had made a fundamental issue in the campaign. Such a change would have required a two-thirds majority in the parliament.

Erdogan, premier from 2003-14 before becoming president, sought to strengthen the office of the presidency which was largely ceremonial until his arrival. Opponents, however, feared it could mark the start of one-man rule, with Erdogan likely to seek another presidential mandate to stay in power until 2024.

HDP Passes Threshold

Turkey's Kurdish party passed the 10 percent electoral threshold for the first time to gain seats in the parliament. The result was considered a triumph for the HDP, which in the campaign had sought to present itself as a genuinely Turkish party and reach out to voters beyond its main Kurdish support.

It was also a personal victory for the party’s leader Selahattin Demirtas, dubbed the “Kurdish Obama” by some for his rhetorical skills.

“Now the HDP is a real party of Turkey. HDP is Turkey and Turkey is HDP. We have achieved a tremendous victory today,” Demirtas told a news conference in Istanbul. He said there would be no coalition with the AKP and instead the HDP would make a “strong and honest opposition.”

HDP MPs had sat in the previous parliament but they had been elected as independents and not from a party list.

In Turkey’s main Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, cars cruised through the streets, with drivers honking and people hanging out from windows making ‘V’ signs as gunshots were fired into the air.

The result however is a disappointment for the CHP, which has again struggled to present itself as a credible main opposition. Analysts see the nationalist MHP as the most likely coalition partner for the AKP in the new parliament.

Marred by Violence

The legislative election took place under the shadow of violence, after two people were killed and dozens more wounded in an attack on a rally of the HDP in Diyarbakir on Friday.

Over 400,000 members of the police and gendarmerie were deployed across Turkey to ensure security, media reports said.

Davutoglu said one suspect had been arrested over the attack and was being checked for links to militant groups.

In Diyarbakir, several people wounded in the attack, some with their legs in plaster and heads in bandages, defied their injuries to vote, AFP correspondents said.

In addition, Erdogan’s heavy involvement in the campaign in favor of the AKP had been controversial, given that as head of state he is required to keep an equal distance from all parties.