Turkey votes amid debate on presidential system

Ruling AK party seeks two-thirds majority in parliament, aiming to replace parliamentary system with a presidential one.

Al Jazeera, By Umut Uras, June 7

Voters in Turkey are casting their ballots in a parliamentary election that could lead to fundamental changes in how the country is governed.

Sunday’s election is being held amid strong economic promises and debates on the Kurdish issue.

The polls are to open at 8am local time (0500GMT) and close at 5pm (1400GMT), with non-official results expected by the end of the day.

The political atmosphere is tense, with bombings targeting the country’s Kurdish-oriented left-wing party and harsh rhetoric emanating from party leaders and the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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  • Turkish election outcome is blow to Erdoğan and breakthrough for Kurds

    President’s behaviour during campaign was exceptionally boorish and he appears to have been punished for it at the polls.

    The Guardian, By Simon Tisdale, June 7

    The mould-breaking outcome of Turkey’s general election on Sunday will be viewed as a personal rebuff for the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and as a historic political breakthrough for the country’s 18 million-strong Kurdish minority, which will be represented by a political party in parliament for the first time.

    With 88% of votes counted, the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), which Erdoğan helped to found, appeared to have lost its overall majority, falling just short of the 276 seats required for control of the 550-seat national assembly. Its share of the vote, at around 43%, was well down on the 49% it obtained in 2011.

    The AKP had aimed for a total of at least 330 seats, which would have enabled the government to hold a referendum on the constitutional changes that Erdoğan needs in order to create an executive presidency. Erdoğan personally travelled the country trying to boost the AKP vote.

    But concerns about a slowing economy, jobs, civil rights and a lack of progress in the Kurdish peace process appear to have combined with worries that Erdoğan could assume quasi-dictatorial powers to thwart the president’s ambitions.

    New York Times: Turkey’s Ruling Party Loses Parliamentary Majority

    ISTANBUL — Turkish voters delivered a rebuke on Sunday to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his party lost its majority in Parliament in a historic election that ended, for now, his ambition to rewrite the Constitution and establish an American-style presidential system.

    The election results represented a significant setback to Mr. Erdogan, an Islamist who has steadily increased his power as president, a partly but not solely ceremonial post, after more than a decade as prime minister, and indicated that Mr. Erdogan’s efforts to accumulate power had run aground. And it was a significant victory to the cadre of Kurds, liberals and secular Turks who found their voice of opposition to Mr. Erdogan during sweeping antigovernment protests two years ago.

    Erdogan forced to weigh coaltion after bloody nose dealt in Turkish poll

    Success of pro-Kurdish party major factor in ruling party failing to reach two-thirds majority.

    Al Jazeera, June 8

    Turkey faces the prospect of weeks of political turmoil after the ruling AKP party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority in weekend polls, dealing a massive blow to President Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitions to acquire sweeping new powers.

    Instead of the two-thirds majority he had wanted to change the constitution and create a new presidential republic, the AKP, while still remaining the biggest party, failed to reach that mark. The outcome augurs weeks of unpredictability as parties vie to form a coalition and even the possibility of a second general election within months.

    The result could also prompt some soul searching in the AKP, Turkey’s dominant political movement for more than a decade, where in recent years religious conservatives, with Erdogan’s support, have gained the ascendancy at the expense of center-right and liberal elements.

    Decisive in the bloody nose dealt Erdogan was the success of a pro-Kurdish opposition party campaigning on a broad leftist agenda that surged ahead to enter parliament.

    The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) picked up about 13 percent of the vote and 79 seats, breaking the 10 percent threshold required for a party to take up its seats, sparking celebrations early Monday morning in the largely ethnic Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.

    Reuters: Plunged into uncertainty, Turkey could face early election

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