Understanding Turkey's election results, 2018
By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Was the 2018 election historic? How do Turkey's 2018 election results compare to the past?The 2018 election was widely thought by the media outside of Turkey to represent some major crossroads. Turkey was becoming a presidential republic. There was an alliance of opposition parties, including the CHP, IYI and two other smaller parties. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was running in alliance with the MHP. There was talk of CHP candidate Muharrem Ince pushing the presidential election to a second round.
But that didn't happen. Instead the 2018 election looks very much like past Turkish elections. In 2018 turnout was 86% and 51 million people voted. 52% of voters chose Erdogan for President. 30% chose Ince and 8.4% Selahattin Demirtas, the HDP candidate. For the Parliament the breakdown was slightly different. 53% voted for the Erdogan-led alliance and 33% for the Ince-led alliance. 11.7% voted for the HDP. So the HDP did better in parliament than in the presidential part of the election.
In the 2018 election a total of 26 million people voted for Erdogan while 15 million voted for Ince and 4 million for Demirtas. The HDP got 5.8 million votes in parliament in contrast to the lower turnout for HDP for the presidency. In the parliament the AKP will have 295 seats, while the CHP will have 146 and HDP 67, the MHP 49 and IYI 43. In the November 2015 parliamentary elections the turnout was 85% and the AKP ended up with 23 million votes and 317 seats. The CHP took 134 seats and 12 million votes. The HDP got 5 million votes and 59 seats while the MHP got 6 million votes and 40 seats.
If we go back to the 2011 parliamentary elections we find 83% turnout and 21 million AKP voters for 327 seats compared to 11 million CHP voters and 135 seats. The MHP got 5.5 million. The last presidential election, in 2011, was marred by lower turnout. The AKP got 21 million votes and the HDP 3.9 million.
The reality is in Turkey that nothing has really changed in elections since the 2007 elections and has basically cemented the AKP in power since 2002. There is a major pool of around 21-26 million AKP voters and the AKP gets between 40-50% of the vote. The CHP cannot seem to rise above the 15 million it got in 2018. It has been steadily increasing its numbers slightly. But the reality is that the cleavages in Turkish politics point to a permanent division and that means rule by the AKP. The HDP has the districts in the east it wins, again and again, and the CHP has those districts in the west it always wins, and the AKP takes the vast majority, around 63 provinces in the center. There was one surprise in the 2018 election which was the success of the Good Party (IYI) that got around 4 million votes. Those votes went to other parties previously. The MHP also performed well. But in the end it doesn't change the electoral map and it is the map that has been guaranteeing the AKP a victory time and again.