This article analyzes the voting patterns in eastern Turkey for the June 24, 2018 elections and examines the cross-sectional and longitudinal variation in 24 eastern cities where Kurdish votes tend to matter significantly. Based on the regional and district level electoral data, the article has four major conclusions. Firstly, the AK Party and the HDP are still the two dominant parties in Turkey’s east. Secondly, HDP votes took a downward direction in the November 2015 elections in eastern Turkey after the peak results in the June 2015 elections, a trend which continued in the June 24 elections. Thirdly, the pre-electoral coalitions of other parties in the June 24 elections cost the HDP seats in the region. Finally, neither the Kurdish votes nor the eastern votes move in the form of a homogenous bloc but intra-Kurdish and intra-regional differences prevail.
2015 was the year of elections in Turkey with two parliamentary elections and months-long election campaigns that dominated the political agenda of the country. The parliamentary elections of June 7 brought an end to the AK Party’s 12-year long era of parliamentary majority and single-party government in Turkey. Nevertheless, the endeavors to form a coalition government could not be concluded successfully and another election appeared on the horizon. The country was ruled by an AK Party-led interim government and the elections were repeated five months later on November 1. While close in time, the two elections were quite distant with regard to the political contexts in which they were carried out, and in their respective results. The November elections witnessed a comeback for the AK Party, which increased its votes by over 9 points with the addition of five million new votes in the ballot box.
This article argues that the economic context of June 7th and November 1st general elections differed to a great extent. First, while the economy was central in the June elections, its prominence was shadowed in November by rising security concerns. Second, while Turkey’s macroeconomic indicators were pretty unpromising prior to the June elections, increasing growth figures before November, with the help of the AK Party’s presentation of it, revived the public’s optimism about the AK Party’s economic performance. Third, in the June elections, the opposition parties plied the electorate with positive economic messages. The AK Party avoided this trend in June but joined the populist camp after seeing the voters’ positive reactions to economic promises. These three differences between the economic contexts of the June and November elections made the AK Party more appealing to voters in November.