Date: 20 Oct 2015, Politics and Current Affairs
Question setter: Mettletest Panel

Turkish Elections Nov. 2015

Will Erdogan's AK Party win an overall majority in the Turkish elections on November 1st 2015?


Answer: No
Confidence level: 54%
Mean confidence level (all requests): 49.20%

Erdogan has continued to alienate too much of Turkey's polarised society to gain a bigger share of the vote than the AKP won in June. He will try to exert dubious influence, to disadvantage rival parties, such as gagging the "opposition" press and promoting propaganda. Modern information sources will still highlight the backward steps made recently, countering the promise of progress seen in the early years of power. Authoritarianism and poor human rights are recognised as a barrier to advancement and they are not even providing security. The Syrian conflict, renewed fighting with the PKK and constant attacks on both forces and the public have knocked confidence. The refugee crisis has hit tourism in western Turkey. Trade links, including oil, with Russia are threatened by hostilities over incursions. All these show lack of or misuse of control and will play to the opposition parties.
Ironically, the poor security situation might mean that the pro-Kurdish HDP party cannot compete in its heartlands and even boycotts the elections, leaving the AKP a majority because that 13% of HDP votes has gone. That scenario remains unlikely though and if it happened AKP legitimacy would be destroyed and civil war on the cards.

Outcome: Yes
Score: -54
Mean score (all respondents): -32.40

Expert opinion:

Answer: No

Selected Expert Answer from Sir Jeremy Greenstock:
Erdogan's AKP is unlikely to improve on the results of the election earlier this year. His attempt then to discredit the Kurdish movement's political arm, the HDP, failed for two main reasons: the growing public disillusion generally with Erdogan's high-handed style, and Kurdish anger at the president's abandonment of his earlier conciliatory approach to Turkish-Kurdish relations. The last five months have seen, if anything, a deterioration in these two factors, not least Erdogan's use of the ISIS pretext to attack the PKK more vigorously. If, against expectations, the AKP does gain a majority on 1 November, there will be (perhaps plausible) accusations of electoral fraud.

Answer: No

Selected Expert Answer from Mettletest Panel:
In June's elections the growth in support for the pro-Kurdish HDP was enough to deprive the AKP of its majority. There is little sign of a change in balance since then but the reaction to key factors and events may confound pollsters. Erdogan's supporters will certainly target certain seats to ensure wins this time and opposition views have been suppressed with no regard for democratic niceties. The president has also received a lift to his credibility from Merkel, whose desperation to solve her refugee crisis has brought her running, full of promises. It's probably still not enough to give the AKP the seats threshold they need. Rival parties cite many issues that undermine Erdogan's leadership credentials:
1.Security. Involvement in Syria, and renewed hostilities with the Kurdish PKK have made Turkey vulnerable. Government forces have been repeatedly attacked. Devastating bombs have hit (opposition) rallies and the authorities have been blamed for negligence, even complicity.
2. Authoritarian crackdowns, curbs on the press and on freedom of speech are seen as regressive
3. International relations have soured over human rights and Russia is becoming an enemy with fighter plane incursions
None of this is going to win over voters hankering for the progressive times of early AKP.

Answer: No

Selected Expert Answer from John Karslake:
Opinion polls show that it is unlikely that the AKP will win the 276 seats required to form a government alone. The polls reflect a near repeat of the June elections, which would have required a coalition and prompted Erdogan to call for new elections so the people could get it right next time! In the meanwhile, Turkey has become more polarised., Attacks on and from the Kurdish PKK have undermined security. There has been a devastating bomb explosion at a peace rally incorporating pro-Kurdish sympathisers, with accusations that the authorities (deliberately) failed to provide protection. Ostensibly, this has harmed the AKP. So too has Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian approach, with curbs on the press and freedom of speech. Yet it may win the AKP the grudging support of those with nationalist leanings and lure them away from the runners-up, centre-left CHP party. Turkey's strengths in early years of AKP rule have been tested by the consolidation of power and intervention in Syria, partly used as cover for renewing the fight against the Kurds' PKK. Can the AKP maintain support, relying on the conservative rural community? And will the new big factor, Merkel's supplication over the refugees, with offers to re-track EU membership lend Erdogan more kudos? Not quite enough.

Outcome: Yes

Comment on outcome from Mettletest Panel:
The extent of Erdogan's victory surprised everybody, including his AK Party supporters. The AKP won 316 seats, a good majority bur short of the 330 seats needed to call a referendum on increasing Erdogan's presidential powers from merely constitutional to executive.. Nevertheless, he holds the real sway - the prime minister does what he's told. Note that Merkel went to the president when offering money and concessions for refugee control. The election was tainted by intimidation and suppression of opposition media. The Kurdish supporting HDP which won 13% of the vote in June, saw their share reduced, having ceased public campaigning after the Ankara bomb attacks. Observers expressed their concerns but there is little doubt that the AKP's promise of stability won over many of the electorate. Fears of polarisation in the country will not have been lessened by further crackdowns since Erdogan's victory. There have been a spate of arrests already and new attacks on the Kurdish PKK fighters. It does not bode well. The Turks may wish for a return to the policies of earlier in the decade which brought growth and stability. Neither seem so evident now.