In this paper, we first present a background to the watershed elections of 2018, describing the context preceding the elections. In order to explain the changes and continuities in the geographic patterns of the 2018 elections, we present ballot-box and district level data from 2018 and previous elections. We refer to long-term ideological/cultural differences as well as short-term evaluations about security and the economy in shaping the 2018 election results. Even in the face of various important developments, radical changes in the geographic voting patterns do not appear to have taken place. The incumbent AK Party and its leader, President Erdoğan, continued to have an electoral edge over competitors in regions that mostly overlap with those observed in earlier elections.
This article analyzes the two general elections in 2015 that followed the local and presidential elections a year earlier. These elections illustrate how a predominant party builds its electoral base, loses, and then recovers votes to consolidate its support base. We demonstrate geographical patterns of voting across the country to illustrate how the electoral scene shifted in less than four months. We discuss the power and limitations of performance politics as a force that shapes electoral outcomes in contexts where security concerns override concerns about economic and social policy performance. We argue that lacking or diminished influence of performance politics is inherently harmful for Turkish democracy and given the divided nature of the electorate a consensus building approach to policy reform and constitution writing is more likely to succeed.