The AKP rebooted – What next for Turkey?

03 November 2015

With the Turkish general elections now complete, Amanda Paul of the European Policy Centre and EFD's Senior Policy Advisor, Demir Murat Seyrek, write about "the huge victory" scored by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), how to understand the election results, its potential consequences, and what the results mean for Turkey-EU relations. The article begins by highlighting that the results not only provide President Erdogan's AKP party's fourth term as a single party government, but also confirm that the President's strategy of pushing for a second election and switching to a security-focused campaign instead of a social and economic one, has greatly paid off.

The snap general election has indeed boosted the AKP by 9 percentage points in relation to the elections held on 7 June, thereby providing the party with 317 out of 550 seats. However, the article warns that if Erdogan does not begin mending bridges with his political opponents, the polarisation and the tension and gagging of freedom of expression which has engulfed the country in recent months, is unlikely to change.

The analysis highlights that the Turkish population voted for stability over fundamental rights and freedoms. The rule of law and these civil liberties were evidently less of a priority for a large number of Turkish voters. The results also appear to demonstrate yet again the weak and divided nature of Turkey’s opposition parties, including their inability to provide a credible alternative to the AKP.

Looking ahead, the EU-Turkey Action Plan as a response to the Syrian refugee crisis will likely be speedily finalised, providing the EU with a much needed quick response to the issue and Erdogan with an important success story. The authors also point out that this plan will not only reinvigorate dialogue between the EU and Turkey, but more importantly, it may even reestablish trust between them.

Moreover, as instability in the Middle East and the establishment of Russia as a security threat in the area create pressing challenges for Turkey, Erdogan may come to rely on EU support more than ever. Such might provide the EU with increased leverage and help it ensure that Turkey's democracy stay on track, but only if the EU engages Turkey better than it has in the past.

The article is in English and can be read here.