Turkish general election, 2007


Turkish general election, 2007

Turkey's 16th general election was held on July 22 2007 and resulted in a resounding victory for the incumbent Justice and Development Party. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6910444.stm Turkey re-elects governing party] BBC News, 22 July 2007 ] The election was fought mostly on Turkey's debate over secularism and the controversial presidential election held earlier in 2007. This election is expected to set the course of Turkish internal politics well into the next decade.citeweb|url=http://www.brookings.edu/fp/cuse/turkey2007.htm |title=2007 elections|accessdate=2007-05-14]

Recent developments in Iraq (explained under positions on terrorism and security), secular and religious concerns, the intervention of the military in political issues, relations with the EU, the United States, and the Muslim world were the main issues. The outcome of this election, which brought the Turkish and Kurdish ethnic/nationalist parties (MHP and DTP) into the parliament, will affect Turkey's bid for European Union membership, as Turkish perceptions of the current process (or lack thereof) affected the results and will continue to affect policymaking in coming years.Fact|date=November 2007

Controversy

Early election: The election was originally planned to follow the 2007 presidential election, scheduled for early May. However, the general election was held before a new President was appointed. Fact|date=May 2007

Minimum age: According to a recent change in election law, the minimum age for candidates for parliament was reduced from 30 to 25. But due to the fact that laws do not take effect for one year after passage, only candidates above the age of 30 were able to be elected in this election.

Death threat: On 14 May A death threat was issued by the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to the Republican People's Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), True Path Party (DYP) and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to withdraw their candidates in the cities of Van and Hakkâri allowing Democratic Society Party (DTP) dominance.citeweb|url=http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/ucuncusayfa/6511101.asp?gid=205|title=PKK'dan büyük tehdit|accessdate=2007-05-14] Turkey, NATO, UN, US and EU recognizes the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization.citeweb|url=http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/fs/2002/12535.htm|title=Foreign Terrorist Organizations List|publisher=United States Department of State|accessdate=2007-08-03] citeweb|url=http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/45394.htm|title=Council Decision|publisher=Council of the European Union|accessdate=2007-08-14] quote|With the exception of DTP all candidates in Van and Hakkari from CHP, MHP, DYP and AKP must annul [sic] themselves and offer their support to Kurdish people. Our people must demonstrate their kurdishness in the elections. If any different approach develops, our approach will also be different. [...] Whoever continues the activities we mentioned here will be punished. Who ever damages our movement or our party [DTP] will not be forgiven in any way. They should know that they are facing death [ Turkish: "DTP dışında, Van ve Hakkari’de CHP, MHP, DYP ve AKP adayları kendilerini fesih edip Kürt halkına desteklerini sunmaları gerekmektedir. Tüm halkımız Kürtlüğünü sandıklarda muhakkak göstermelidir. Aksi yaklaşımlar gelişecek olursa yaklaşımlarımız farklı olacaktır. " [...] " Bu uyarımızdan sonra bildiride belirttiğimiz faaliyetler içinde olanlar cezalandırılacaktır. Hareketimize ve partimize zarar veren şahsiyetler hiçbir şekilde affedilmeyecektir. Ölümle karşı karşıya olduğunu bilmelidirler." - from citeweb|url=http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/ucuncusayfa/6511101.asp?gid=205|title=PKK'dan büyük tehdit|accessdate=2007-05-14]

Threshold requirement: According to Turkish election laws, a party must gain at least 10% of national vote to be represented in the Grand Assembly. Ostensibly, this law is aimed at preventing a highly fragmented parliament, and yet it is also argued that this is used as a cloak to keep the Kurds from the parliament. Many parties that failed to cross this threshold in the last election will seek a return to Parliament. As the 10% threshold requirement only holds for political parties, to bypass this requirement, the Democratic Society Party decided to have its candidates run as Independents. On 13 May DTP announced that if they wanted to, they could lock up the elections by putting in five to ten thousand independent candidates.citeweb|url=http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/6503897.asp?gid=210|title='Seçimleri kilitleyebiliriz'|accessdate=2007-05-16] The next day in a statement, the High Election Committee ( _tr. Yüksek Seçim Kurulu (YSK)) responded to DTP's threat by stating that there is no issue and that they would simply use "larger envelopes".citeweb|url=http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/6510699.asp?gid=210|title=YSK Başkanı: Önümüzdeki seçimde 25 yaş uygulanamaz|accessdate=2007-05-16]

Election eligibility: "Supreme Election Board" head Muammer Aydin claims that after the scrutiny of the candidates in terms of their eligibility, the election board decided that Erbakan and former DEP (Democratic Society Party) parliamentarians (Orhan Doğan, Selim Sadak and Hatip Dicle), who was jailed after being found guilty of supporting the PKK, (a militant group recognized as a terrorist organization by a number of states and organizations, including the USA, NATO, and the EU)., would not be allowed to stand as candidates in the election. In a statement regarding some of the candidates in prison, DTP leader Türk said that hundreds of people support them, even though some are associated with murder cases. The Supreme Court of Appeals wrote a letter to DTP and demanded the cancellation of the candidacy of 74 founding members on the basis that they have criminal backgrounds which automatically disqualifies them from being the elected. DTP leader Türk said, "DTP took the decision to show these people as candidates because [the] Kurdish people see Ankara, the Parliament, as the place for a solution." DTP's move to promote candidates with criminal background was perceived as building a "politics of controversy" in the country as Türk also stated that they had taken the necessary measures to fill the positions of candidates who might be rejected by the Supreme Election Board.

Issues

The stage of the elections were set for a fight for legitimacy in the eyes of voters between Erdoğan's government, which has been criticized as having Islamic leanings, and the country’s secular movement, supported by the Turkish military. Erdoğan, it is said, wants to divert the attention of the voters from local issues to theoretical and ideological ones by making the election a platform for the Presidential election.

Positions on higher education

The capacity of Turkish higher educational institutions falls short compared to the number of high school graduates. The Higher Education Council is responsible from the planning, implementation and accreditation of higher education in Turkey. The Higher Education Council limits the number of the available educational institutions based on the available educators (PhD) in the public sector. The second branch, private universities (established by vakifs) are limited by the conditions of accreditation set by the Higher Education Council.

Erdoğan announced that the problem lies with the "Higher Education Council". Erdoğan proposed that if his party is elected, they will change the constitution to solve this issue. [ [http://www.milliyet.com.tr/2007/06/18/siyaset/axsiy01.html YOK] ] Erdoğan did not give the details or the financial implications of his plan. During the same speech, Erdoğan also proposed to establish a higher educational institution in every province. Critics claim that there is at least one university in every province, and the problem is not construction of buildings but recruiting qualified professors. Erdoğan did not talk about his previous campaign issues, such as the use of the hijab (specially women's head covering) as a religious symbol in higher education which he had previously promoted based on the concept of Islamic jurisprudence.

Positions on the presidency

The 2007 presidential election was deadlocked in the failed negotiations on the issues surrounding the new president by the parties. The lack of this negotiation forced the Prime Minister Erdoğan and his party to declare early elections to establish a new parliament to tackle the issues of the Presidency.

Erdoğan claims that the position of President is political and it should be elected by the public not by the parties. "How can those who see the election of the Turkish president by popular vote as a problem for the regime ask votes from the people?" asked Erdoğan [ [http://www.turkishpress.com/news.asp?id=178755 Erdogan: History Will Judge President's Veto ] ] .

The Republican People’s Party accused Erdoğan of acting with "a sense of vengeance" for having failed first to secure his, then his chosen candidate, Gul's election. Now, at the expense of creating a "degenerated parliamentary system", he is trying to secure a new path to his goal. [ [http://aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=1&id=9110 Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) ] ] Baykal said it would mount a legal challenge to this ideology. Baykal claims that the position of president in Turkey is non-partisan, and should be above political concerns and is designed to play an oversight role. The President's job description and powers demand that the policies articulated from this office should reflect a balance within the country, and be an institution which all the parties can trust. Because of this balancing act, according to Baykal, it is very important to create [he says "protect"] the neutral point [through reaching an agreement at the parliament among the parties] as to the President, thus preventing domination of a single party [which might generate PM and President at the same time] and control every mechanism of the Turkish political system.

Foreign policy

Position of parties regarding Foreign issues.

Campaign issues

The general election will see the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) hoping to secure its position as the single government party. The Republican People's Party (CHP), a center-left party, will be looking forward to form a single party, or most likely a coalition government.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, speaking at a parliamentary group meeting of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on Friday, stated that they are not engaging in restricted politics but that their party is a center party that is open to all segments of society.

Alliances

The threshold of 10% forces minor and medium sized parties to form alliances. The first official offer came from Liberal Democratic Party who offered an alliance to nine political parties both from left and right wings, including the Motherland Party and Democratic Left Party.cite web |first=Şakir|last=Süter
url=http://www.aksam.com.tr/yazar.asp?a=57254,10,11|title=LDP'den ittifak (Alliance from LDP, "Turkish")
publisher=Akşam
date=November 2, 2006 |accessdate=2007-03-19
]

Unification:

:Liberal parties: On June 2, 2007, the True Path Party changed its name to Democratic Party (DP), and the Motherland Party was to merge into DP.cite news|url=http://www.ntvmsnbc.com/news/407227.asp|language=Turkish|title=DYP ve Anavatan birleşti, DP oldu|accessdate=2007-05-07|date=May 7, 2007|publisher=NTV] However, the Motherland Party did not dissolve itself in a party congress. On 2 June 2007 Erkan Mumcu made a statement accusing DYP leader not having fulfilled the promises he made in the unification protocol.

:Left parties: The Republican People's Party (as the largest centre-left political party) had expressed their wish to amalgamate with the Democratic Left Party and the Social Democratic People's Party. As of May 17 2007, they made an election alliance with Democratic Left Party.

Groups and unions:

:Armenians in Turkey: The Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan of Constantinople gave his support to Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party. Mesrob II claimed that Erdoğan has been good to his people, gave his support to Armenians' rights and was less nationalist than the Kemalist CHP. Mesrob II claimed that he represents a substantial amount of Armenian votes [around 40,000] and has power to effect the results in his region [The interview was published in [http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/6641303.asp?gid=180 Hurriyet] ] .

:Alevis in Turkey: This elections Alevi representation will not vote as a block to Republican People's Party as they were in the past [ [http://www.internethaber.com/news_detail.php?id=87319 Alevi oyları MHP yolunda | Haber'in Doğru Adresi, Haber, Yerel Haber, Siyaset Haberleri, Sondakika Haberleri, Gazeteler, Haberler ] ] .

Imports/exports

Justice and Development Party: Erdoğan, speaking at a parliamentary group meeting of JDP, stated that they are not engaging in restricted politics [only based on religion] but that their party is a "center party" that is open to all segments of society [ [http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=112941 Today'S Zaman ] ] .

Imports: In alliance with his goal: Ankara Chamber of Industry Chairman Zafer Çağlayan, Ahmet İyimaya (from DYP), Mehmet Domaç, Associate Professor Zeynep Dağı, Professor Zafer Üskül (from SHP), Fazilet Dağcı Çığlı, Professor Yusuf Ziya İrbeç, Osman Yağmurdereli, Ertuğrul Günay (from CHP), Reha Çamuroğlu (Alevi) and Ülkü Gökalp Güney are imported to the party.

Exports: Before the party lists declared; the establishing member and the State Minister Abdüllatif Şener said he would not run for parliamentary elections. Bandırma deputy Turhan Çömez, declared that he will not run.

Motherland Party: After the failed unification (alliance) there are members that quit the party.

Exports: Nejat Arseven, Lütfullah Kayalar (to CHP), Edip Safder Gaydalı (to CHP) and Şerif Bedirhanoğlu among them.

Finance

Campaign finance has been an issue in Turkey, as religion-based parties were said to have taken foreign monetary support. The parties have respectively raised through membership charges:

*8,000,000 YTL, Justice and Development Party
*7,000,000 YTL, Republican People's Party
*True Path Party, 4,500,000 YTL
*Anavatan, 4,000,000 YTL
*Nationalist Movement Party, 1,300,000 YTL

The "total expenses" for each party at the end of the election was; Justice and Development Party 141.216.258 YTL, Republican People's Party, 79.874.759 YTL, Nationalist Movement Party 26.547.814 YTL, Genç Parti 23.020.688 YTL, True Path Party 30.306.255 YTL [ http://www4.gazetevatan.com/haberdetay.asp?tarih=01.07.2007&newsid=125936&Category=id4&wid=108#javascript:; Necati Doğru] . Some of the raised money was claimed to be used as a financial bargain as Justice and Development Party handed out presents in party meetings. [http://www.milliyet.com.tr/2007/06/28/son/resim/sonsiy18.jpg] [http://img520.imageshack.us/img520/3745/foto12jzk6.jpg] [http://www.milliyet.com.tr/2007/06/28/son/sonsiy18.asp Milliyet News, 28 June 2007]

Debates

There were no face to face debates that brought leaders into a single medium during this campaign period. The limited argumentation between leaders were performed through out the rallies and use of media as a communication tool.

Opinion polls

1 Results do not include a 33.9% block of people polled who said they were undecided. Source: [http://www.sabah.com.tr/2006/07/23/gnd107.html Sabah]

² Source: [http://www.sonararastirma.com/rapor/grafik3.jpgSONAR Araştırma]

³ Results are after distribution of undecided votes. Source: [http://www.milliyet.com.tr/2007/02/20/son/sonsiy06.asp SONAR Araştırma]

4 VERSO Center of Political Studies Source: [http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/16523 Angus Reid Global Monitor]

Results

Composition of the Grand National Assembly

One of the parliamentarians elected for MHP in Istanbul 3, Mehmet Cihat Özönder, died in a traffic accident on 26 July 2007. [ [http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/6224965.html People's Daily Online - Turkey's newly-elected MHP lawmaker killed in traffic accident ] ] Furthermore, the election of independent DTP member Sebahat Tuncel was criticised by opponents; she was elected from prison, having been arrested in November 2006 for alleged links to the PKK. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6920187.stm BBC NEWS | Europe | Row erupts over jailed Turkey MP ] ]

Analysis

While the AKP gained votes over 2002, the resurgence of the nationalist MHP resulted in a slight net loss of 23 seats for the ruling party and therefore unable to obtain two-third majority for the second time since AKP first contested in general election in 2002. Still, with 61.8% of the seats, the AKP maintains a large outright majority in the 16th Parliament. The resurgence of the MHP gives them 71 seats to make them the third party for the 16th Parliament. Their resurgence proved far more costly for the CHP, who lost 66 seats but maintained their position as the second party in the 16th Parliament.

Independents fared far better in 2007 than in 2002, earning a 5.2% share of the popular vote, up from 1% in the previous election. As a result, the number of independent MPs in the 16th Parliament (60th government) will increase from 9 to 27.

References

External links

* [http://www.cnnturk.com/arama/haber_detay.asp?PID=00318&haberID=248468 CNN Turk article (in Turkish)]
* [http://eng.sandik.org 2007 elections news in English]
* [http://www.sandik.org 2007 elections news in Turkish]
* [http://www.turkishpolitix.com/elections07.htm Turkishpolitix.com - Online Dossier on elections in 2007 (in English)]


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