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Sunday, June 12, 2011

AKP short of majority needed for unilateral constitutional reform

BBC reports that with 99% of the ballots counted (that's fast!), Erdoğan's AKP has received 50% of the popular vote in the Turkish parliamentary election. This translates to 326 seats out of the Grand National Assembly's 550 seats. This is a disappointment for Erdoğan, who was aiming for one of the two options that would have allowed him to push through a new constitution without relying on votes from the opposition:

  1. With a 2/3 "supermajority" of 367 seats, the AKP could have passed a new constitution unilaterally. 
  2. With at least 330 seats, the AKP could have passed amendments to the constitution and then presented them to the people in a popular referendum. Given the AKP's success in the last referendum on constitutional changes (September 12 of last year), this would have been a good option for Erdoğan.

But neither of these two options are now available. If this result stands, it means that Erdoğan will have to seek the support of at least 4 parliamentarians outside the AKP. Such support is unlikely to come from the nationalist MHP, which appears to have passed the 10% threshold at 13% (54 seats), but it could come from either within the CHP (26% and 135 seats) or from some of the 35 independent candidates from the pro-Kurdish BDP.

So, early Monday-morning quarterbacking: Erdoğan's attempt to steal nationalist votes from MHP to get them under the 10% threshold failed. And in so doing, he may have lost a significant number of Kurdish votes. (Btw, this fits with my analysis of the mistaken strategy of many mainstream politicians in Western Europe, who pander to xenophobes on the misguided assumption that so doing will weaken the extreme right.) It is now time to mend some fences.

According to a tweet I just saw, voter turn-out was (as is common in Turkey) very high: 86,7%.


UPDATE 22:59
Al Jazera's live blog quotes from Erdoğan's victory speech:
We will be humble. We have never displayed pride or boasted... We will be seeking consensus with the main opposition, the opposition, parties outside of parliament, the media, NGOs, with academics, with anyone who has something to say.

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