Henry Kirby and Kivanc Dundar -
A November snap election called by Turkey’s Justice & Development Party (AKP) will prove fruitless, according to a recent poll, with another hung parliament the most likely outcome of the vote.
Results of the survey by Turkish polling company Metropoll show that national sentiment closely mirrors the actual results of June’s election, with none of the four main parties polling more than 2 percentage points higher or lower than the share of the popular vote they achieved three months ago.
Support for the AKP rose slightly to 41.4% from 40.9% in June, but the party is expected to again fall short of the votes needed to form a single-party government. In a previous survey, conducted in August, Metropoll predicted that AKP would get 41.7% of the vote in the upcoming elections on November 1.
Kurdish voice in parliament
After failing to secure a single party majority in June’s parliamentary election, AKP aimed to exploit security concerns following clashes between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish military by announcing fresh elections in November. Escalating violence in the country’s Kurdish eastern and southeastern provinces has already seen more than 100 security personnel and hundreds of insurgents die, after a two-year ceasefire with the PKK collapsed in July.
The June election saw the AKP lose the parliamentary majority it had enjoyed for 12 years, as the Kurdish HDP party – viewed by Turkish nationalists as the political arm of the PKK – easily cleared the 10% threshold necessary for parliamentary representation, securing 13% of the votes and sending 80 deputies to the 550-seat parliament.
Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the HDP, accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government of deliberately stoking tension between Turks and Kurds to curb support for the HDP. Erdogan and the government deny the accusations.
Political instability bad for business
June’s election result came as a shock and heavy blow to Erdogan’s AKP, with the president banking on the party winning a (376-seat) super-majority, therefore allowing him to rewrite the constitution and grant himself executive powers.
An Erdogan-led presidential Turkey is a prospect that sends shivers through the markets, as such power would allow him to directly alter monetary policy in Turkey. In a country already suffering as a result of continued dollar appreciation, this level of unpredictability would send investors running.
Even without the possibility of a super-majority, the current parliamentary stalemate is doing Turkey no favours for its reputation among investors. A repeat of June’s result would only paper over the cracks until another election is likely held, meaning investors cannot look further ahead than a matter of weeks with any kind of certainty.
Finansbank’s chief economist, Inan Demir, stressed the need for a stable government if Turkey is to remain a viable investment destination. “If the election result is the same as June, most investors would be wary about the prospect of renewed elections or some form of conflict between Erdogan and the incoming government,” he said.
A preferable situation, Demir said, would be a “small AKP majority, putting paid to questions about how the government would be formed”.
However, any settling effect of a majority government would be followed by a focus on economic management in Turkey, which could soon undergo a shakeup after two key economists were left out of the AKP’s central executive committee following the party’s convention last weekend.
“The fact that [Deputy Prime Minister] Ali Babacan and [Minister of Finance] Mehmet Simsek were excluded from the AKP top command is not a good sign,” Demir said.
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