Turkish Election Preview

man voting on elections in turkeyTurkey will hold general elections on November 1, but at this point it’s hard to imagine how the results will be materially different from the stalemate of the last elections.  The latest polls by Metropoll show:

  • The ruling AKP won 258 seats (41% of the votes) in the June elections. Polls now suggest it may win 2-3 additional seats but no one foresees the party reaching the 276 seats necessary for an absolute majority
  • The main opposition party CHP won 132 seats (25% of the votes) in June.  Polls show the party with 26% or so
  • The nationalist right wing party MHP won 80 seats (17.3% of the votes). Polls show the party’s support fall to 16%
  • The pro-Kurdish HDP won 80 seats (13% of the votes). Some polls suggest the party may get as many as 87 seats this time around, while others see it losing a bit of ground.

The only way that this election could turn out to be different is if the AKP gets enough support to go over the 276 MP threshold.  The only way this would be possible is if the HDP fails to get over the 10% minimum to be in the government, thus seeing their votes re-distributed.  This would probably be the worst case scenario for Turkey, since Kurds would feel disenfranchised by the electoral system after their historical victory in June, and would certainly call foul play by the AKP.  As such, this would aggravate and perpetuate the domestic conflict with the Kurds, which make up some 20% of the Turkish population. But voting preferences are very entrenched, making this just a tail risk.  Even the escalation of the conflict between the AKP and the Kurds is unlikely to have a major impact on voter intentions either way.

This leaves us with a coalition scenario. Let’s look at the possibilities.

  • An AKP-HDP coalition is off the table for obvious reasons
  • An AKP-MHP coalition is possible, but hard to materialize in practice.  Everything suggests that the MHP is comfortable being in opposition, fearing that if it joined the AKP it would lose its identity and compromise its voter base. On the other side, some of the demands by the MHP may prove difficult for the AKP to swallow
  • A CHP-MHP-HDP coalition is mathematically enough for a government, but the MHP and HDP would never be on the same side
  • Therefore an AKP-CHP coalition seems the most likely scenario, so let’s look at it in more detail

The only viable solution after a stalemate would be an AKP coalition with the CHP, and this will probably be the best (or least bad) outcome.  In order to achieve this, the AKP would likely need to marginalize President Erdogan to some degree in order to make an agreement more palatable.  This is hard to imagine, but it may have to happen, probably through the growing importance of Prime Minister Davutoglu.  Either way, an AKP-CHP coalition, if it does materialize, is likely to be extremely fragile, leaving Turkey and Turkish asset prices open to constant political uncertainty.