This paper intends to provide a descriptive account of what took place in the March 2009 local elections and then to contextualize the electoral developments that are most relevant for Turkish domestic politics. This analysis concentrates on the provincial general council (İl Genel Meclisi) elections, which is thought to give the best approximation to the results of a general election compared to other levels of local elections. It should nevertheless be underlined that no matter how far one may want to push the argument about the similarity of local elections to general elections, all rational voters knew what was at stake in the March 29, 2009 local election and that it was not a general election. Therefore, the dynamics that shaped voting decisions in the local elections were of a distinctly different nature to those of a general election. The provincial general council
Turkey’s Local Elections of 2009: Winners and Losers
This article presents a descriptive account of the March 2009 local elections in Turkey and offers a nation-wide and regional evaluation of trends in Turkish elections since 2004. The results of these analyses suggest that, although the AKP’s rise in support has stalled, it remains the dominant political party in Turkish politics. However, a regionally differentiated analysis shows that significant differences can be observed between the more developed western coastal regions, where the opposition parties received a lot of support, and the eastern and southeastern provinces, where parties that represent the ethnic Kurdish minority have seen rising support. In between these two areas, the AKP continues to dominate in the more conservative provinces, followed by the MHP. The article emphasizes the worsening economic conditions as the main factor that shaped these developments, and underlines the geographically advantageous positioning of the MHP which may mount a credible opposition to the AKP in the future.
The AKP was the largest party in all regions except the Western Marmara region, where it had its lowest level of support at more than seven percentage points below its overall national level of support.
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