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Election Storm in Turkey: What do the Results of June and November 2015 Elections Tell Us?

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.

Election Storm in Turkey What do the Results of June
In the November 1st general elections, 85.18 percent of the Turks went to the ballots to exert their right of suffrage. | AA PHOTO / AHMET İZGİ
 

Introduction

Turkey has been rocked by an election storm. In less than two years since March 2014, the country has had four elections, the most recent taking place on November 1st, 2015. The ruling Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi or AK Party) won three consecutive elections in 2002, 2007 and 2011 by continuously increasing its vote share from about 34 percent to nearly 50 percent; in doing so it became a rare example of a predominant party in a competitive democracy.1 Following the local and presidential elections in March and August 2014, the AK Party incurred its first significant electoral loss in June 2015, leading to a parliamentary outlook that did not allow for the formation of any government. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan eventually took the decision to hold early or “repeat” elections which eventually led the AK Party to recover its losses in November 2015. 

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