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Putting Turkey’s June and November 2015 Election Outcomes in Perspective

The results of Turkey’s June and November 2015 parliamentary elections are put in perspective in light of economic voting literature and observed historical patterns. Usual and unusual factors that played roles in these elections are identified and their relative importance is assessed. It appears that a higher than usual number of strategic votes cast due to special circumstances were essentially behind the outcomes of both of these elections. The results also show that voters have consolidated in four camps more firmly than ever before and that the AK Party once more came close to a fifty percent vote share, which is the long run potential for conservative parties.

Putting Turkey s June and November 2015 Election Outcomes in
In November 1st elections, the ruling AK Party got 49.49 percent of the votes and won the majority in the parliament. AA PHOTO / MUSTAFA ÜNAL UYSAL
 

Introduction 

The vote share of a party over time can be viewed as having a level around which it generally fluctuates. Long run factors, such as the cultural, socio-economic, and demographic characteristics of voters and the history and geography of the country determine the level. However, military coups, political bans, and the institutional changes they bring can have long lasting effects on the level of vote share as well. Short run factors, such as an electorate’s desire to check and balance the power of the ruling party, to express their pleasure or displeasure with its decisions and promises, and to reward or punish it for its economic performance, cause temporary deviations from the level. When the impacts of temporary and persistent shocks overlap, as was the case in Turkey during the 13-year tenure of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), it becomes difficult to interpret election outcomes properly. That is why the party’s performance in almost every election was considered surprising at least to some extent and many firsts were realized in each.

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