Jul 04 2018

Polarisation, not cheating, decisive in Jun. 24 elections - scholar

High hopes from the opposition prior to the Jun. 24 Turkish elections were overly optimistic, and the results clearly illustrate the highly polarised majoritarian society of the “New Turkey” rather than electoral malfeasance Turkey specialist Bill Park wrote for the Platform for Peace and Justice.

Despite fears that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would use its dominance to fix the votes, and suspicions that the rise in votes for Turkish nationalists in the country’s predominantly Kurdish regions were signs of vote rigging, the results reflect social divisions seen in previous elections, said Park.

In fact, one of the significant lessons from the election was that “Turkish society is polarised, and quite rigidly so,” between secularist strongholds in the West, Islamist and nationalist majorities in Anatolia, and pro-Kurdish and Islamist populations in the southeast, said Park.

“The June 2018 election largely confirmed rather than challenged this pre-existing geographical and sociological distribution of Turkish political preferences,” he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government’s unshakeable command and advocacy of a loyal majority voter base, “which it also helps shape,” is part of a “New Turkey,” a majoritarian democracy in which that voter base’s interests are paramount and “the rights and freedoms of others are of little concern,” Park said.