On Friday, June 12, German Marshall Fund hosted Dr. Joshua Walker for a discussion with a group of senior bicameral and bipartisan Congressional staff on the recent Turkish elections. Dr. Walker is a non-resident transatlantic fellow at GMF.
On Sunday, June 7th, Turkish citizens flocked to the polls delivered a stunning defeat to President Recep Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which lost its outright majority for the first time since 2002. The AKP now holds only 258 seats in Parliament. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) took 132 seats, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) took 80 seats, and the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) won 80 seats. The rise of the HDP was most unexpected, and this is the first time that it has crossed the 10% threshold needed for a party to hold seats in Parliament. The change in the parliamentary make-up has all but confirmed that Erdogan’s plans to reform the constitution and strengthen the powers of the Presidential office will not move forward.
Dr. Walker began the lunch by providing an overview of the political parties in Turkey, an explanation of the election outcome, and the implications for Turkey’s future and its relations with the Arab world, Europe, and the United States. A lively discussion followed with staff engaging on questions about the economy, the Syrian refugee Crisis, ISIL and Iran. Staffers were particularly interested in what role the Kurds will now play in domestic and regional policy and the importance of Turkey as an ally to the U.S. in the fight against violent extremism.