Erdogan Seeks Presidential Republic as Polls Close in Turkey
ANKARA, Turkey, June 7 (UPI) — Polls closed Sunday in Turkey as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks to earn enough votes for his party to transform the government into a presidential republic.
Should the Justice and Development Party (AKP) earn a big enough majority, executive power could shift from Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Erdogan, who was elected to the largely ceremonial post of president in August. Erdogan served as prime minister from 2003 until he was elected president last year.
The AKP’s largest obstacle is the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which seeks to cross the 10 percent threshold to enter parliament. The HDP, along with fellow opposition groups, the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), want to prevent the consolidation of power and even hope to create a coalition government.
Those in favor of the presidential shift point to political turmoil before the AKP took control in 2002.
“My choice is obvious: the AKP — because they have achieved so much for the country. I don’t want the nation to splinter, therefore I believe the stability of this one-party government must continue,” a woman identified only as Hayriye told the Wall Street Journal.
Indeed, there has been violence in Turkey in the run-up to the election, particularly against HDP supporters. Two people died at an HDP rally in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir on Friday and 15 people were injured Sunday in the province of Sanliurfa near Syria when pro-Kurdish politicians were prevented from visiting polling stations.
“Turkey could witness a period of political turbulence and violence in the aftermath of the elections,” said Anthony Skinner, of the British-based political-risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft. “The election is a choice between increased authoritarianism versus a parliamentary democracy defined by the division of power.”
Turkey could see election results as early as late Sunday, though the final outcome isn’t expected until Monday.