Local Elections Give Outline Of Turkish Political Life With Surprising Results

(MENAFN- AzerNews) By Prof. Dr. Mahmut Hakkı Akın / Istanbul Culture UniversityFaculty Member

The fact that a society, the majority of whose population livesin metropolitan cities, turns to two powerful parties representingtwo poles is a situation that can be followed for a long time. As apole of power in CHP's success, especially in metropolitan cities,the DEM Party and its effect on attracting the AK Party oppositionvoters, especially the İyi Party voters, should not be ignored.

The March 31, 2024, local election, held last Sunday, seems tohave taken its place in Turkish Political life with its surprisingresults. Although not a year has passed since the general andpresidential elections were held simultaneously, the fact that theJustice and Development Party lost significant votes in manymunicipalities that it had governed for many years and in allprovinces of Turkiye, except for a few provinces, has causedgeneral surprise. Because this election was entered with theatmosphere created by the election on May 14, 2023. It can be saidthat the election results were a surprise for the RepublicanPeople's Party, which experienced a significant increase in itsvotes.

Although there were some local effects in the local electionsheld in the 1960s and 1970s, results similar to those seen in thegeneral elections emerged. However, some local elections in Turkishpolitical history have also given signs of a change in thepolitical structure. In this regard, the 1989 and 1994 localelections stand out as two critical elections. The 1989 electionwas an important turning point in the process of ANAP moving awayfrom power, shrinking in the 1990s and disappearing from thepolitical scene in the early 2000s. Although the Social DemocraticPopulist Party (SHP), which is considered the heir of theRepublican People's Party that was closed down after September 12,achieved great success in the 1989 local elections, it paid a heavyprice for its failure in local governments in the 1991 general and1994 local elections. SHP could not take advantage of the greatopportunity it had. The 1994 local elections, in which PresidentRecep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected Mayor of Istanbul MetropolitanMunicipality, resulted in the great success of the Welfare Partyand became an important turning point in recent politics. Thesuccess of the local elections in 1994 is central to the rise ofthe National Vision Movement in the 1990s and the success of the AKParty in the 2000s.

After the election results began to be announced on the eveningof March 31 and the general picture was formed, there were peopleon television and on social media making references to the 1989election.“Is this election similar to the 1989 election?” and“Isthe fate of the Motherland Party awaiting the AK Party?” Questionsthat can be expressed as follows have been expressed. Of course,there are some important differences in the social and politicalstructure of Turkey in 1989 compared to today. In those years, therelationship between bureaucracy and civil politics in Turkey wasvery different from today. In addition, there was a currentpolitical environment in which old and master politicians such asSüleyman Demirel, Bülent Ecevit, Necmettin Erbakan, and AlparslanTürkeş were the actors. However, the most important reason for theelection results in 1989 was the economy, especially the failure toreduce inflation. Problems such as economic bottleneck, inflation,and the decrease in the purchasing power of retirees have led tosimilarities between this election and the 1989 election.

According to the results of the March 31 election, it cannot besaid exactly that the AK Party is in the same situation as the ANAPin 1989. Based on this determination, it cannot be said that theSHP of 1989 is the CHP of today. First of all, the number of votesand municipalities lost by the ANAP is incomparably higher thanthat of the AK Party. The fact that a society, the majority ofwhose population lives in metropolitan cities, turns to twopowerful parties representing two poles is a situation that can befollowed for a long time. As a pole of power in the CHP's success,especially in metropolitan cities, the DEM Party and its effect onattracting AK Party opposition voters, especially İyi Party voters,should not be ignored.

In the 1980s and 1990s, there were many strong partyalternatives for voters. In this election, the possibility of votesturning towards the New Welfare Party (YRP) as a reaction againstthe AK Party was frequently mentioned before the election. Thevotes received by YRP had effects that changed the election resultsin some provinces and districts. Although this effect was not verylarge in metropolitan cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir,Bursa, Antalya, and Adana, YRP emerged successful in the elections has been observed that the Saadet Party, the Deva Party, and theFuture Party, which appeal to similar social bases, are considereddifferent from the YRP by conservative voters and cannot be analternative to the AK Party. It has been experienced once againthat historical and social reality has a memory and that thismemory is the source of political positions and the distancesassociated with these positions. It is possible to say that voterswho sympathise with the AK Party but vote for another party or donot go to the polls also ignore those who act contrary to theirhistorical and political reality. Just as the CHP was able to getvotes from different social segments as a pole of power inmetropolitan cities, the AK Party, which changed Turkish politicalhistory as the real master of this business, could not maintain itsattractive effect even though it was a strong pole. Despiteeverything, it should be taken into consideration that votersdistinguish between general and local elections.

The fact that the AK Party, which managed to get nearly 50percent of the votes in the 2011 and 2015 elections without beinginvolved in any alliance, lost votes in the last election can alsobe interpreted as a distinction between President Recep TayyipErdoğan and the AK Party in its political base. The AK Party's voterate also showed a downward trend in the general elections. Infact, in the 2023 general elections, it reached the 35 percentlevel again, where it was in power in 2002. However, in the 2014,2018, and 2023 presidential elections, Recep Tayyip Erdoğanpreserved his votes and managed to get more votes than his party this reason, the reaction to the AK Party changed the balanceof power in local elections and led to the decline of the party'sdominance in local politics.

It is necessary for political parties to analyse the shockexperienced in the election for their own future. In politics,shocks can also be experienced in different doses. It may beremembered that after the Democratic Left Party became the firstparty in Turkey with 22 percent of the votes in 1999, it received 1percent of the votes in 2002. Politics is always open to versatileinfluences and fluctuations depending on different factors, politics has to turn to the future.“His political lifeis now over.” Many so-called politicians later became alternativesfor voters again. However, it is vital that some signs beinterpreted in a healthy way that is directly in line withhistorical and social reality.



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