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The MHP’s Lost Coalition Opportunity: Political Communication, Discourse and Strategies in the June and November 2015 Elections

The November 2015 snap elections mark a lost opportunity for Turkey to form a coalition government between the AK Party and other potential partners. The failure to form a coalition resulted from many factors. Primary among them, a significant resurgence in PKK terrorism, which led to increasing demands for stability, and the inability of the coalition partners themselves to come to an agreement. The MHP occupied a power position of sorts, following the June 7 elections, in which it won 16 percent of the vote. Its failure to capitalize on this power is due in part to its perception as a “Nay Sayer,” its static position on the Kurdish issue, which it views from a nationalist, security perspective, and its inability to win the hearts and minds of the Turkish constituency through its campaign messages.

The MHP s Lost Coalition Opportunity Political Communication Discourse and
The leader of the MHP, Devlet Bahçeli, giving a speech in Gaziantep during the electoral campaign. AA PHOTO / ORHAN ÇİÇEK
 

Introduction

The MHP increased its votes by about two million in Turkey’s June 7 general elections and its vote share jumped to 16 percent from 13 percent in the preceding elections. The rise of the MHP can be summarized in a few points. First of all, Turkish nationalism rose as a social reaction to the increasing votes going to the pro-Kurdish HDP; that evidently helped the MHP land on its’ feet. The MHP received votes primarily from youth who voted for the first time, and from electors of other parties. For instance, votes shifted from the AK Party to the MHP to a certain extent, as their party grassroots overlap on some matters. AK Party votes, to a large extent, shifted to the MHP in the western part of the country. The main opposition party CHP lost a substantial number of votes to the MHP as well. There are some specific reasons behind this, rooted in local politics, but there are also more general reasons.1

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