The June 7th general elections in Turkey ushered in a new group of Turkish political parties, and has radically changed the shape of Turkish politics. As a result of the elections, the pro-Kurdish HDP has gained independent political representation, and Turkey’s ruling party, Erdogan’s AKP, has lost its majority. A multi-party coalition of Turkish political parties has been formed to control 276 seats in the 550-seat parliament.
5 Minute Lesson: Turkish Political Parties
People’s Democratic Party (HDP)
Left-wing, Kurdish – 80 seats
The newly elected HDP gives a pro-Kurdish political party representation in the Turkish parliament for the first time in history. To achieve this historic landmark, the HDP had to expand its appeal beyond the Kurdish minority. The HDP ran on a platform campaigning for women’s rights, homosexual’s rights, and for other liberal causes including equal treatment for all religions. Historically, members of the HDP in Parliament have been placed through coalition governments.
Elif Safak, one of Turkey’s most famous novelists, wrote in Time magazine this week: “It is one of the biggest ironies of Turkish political history that the Kurds — once belittled by the elites as a ‘backward culture’ — have become the major progressive force in the country.”
Justice and Development Party (AKP)
Conservative, Islamist – 258 seats
President Erdogan’s party has been running Turkey since 2002. It has been pushing a non-secular (pro-religious) agenda, and is eroding the control of the Turkish military over politics. It has run on a mainly economic ticket, and has seen relative economic success over the past decade. They have pursued entry into the European Union, as well as peace with the P.K.K., both unsuccessful, so far. The AKP has become known for its suppression of political criticism and dissent in the media, which has come at the cost of liberal and international support.
Republican People’s Party (CHP)
Center-left, Secular – 132 seats
The CHP is the modern party of Turkey’s post-Ottoman founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who was against religion in government. It has been the main opposition party to the AKP since 2002. Over the past decade, it has softened its pro-secular stance to prevent the alienation of religious voters. It ran its election campaign on economic issues.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)
Right-wing – 80 seats
The MHP is similar to the AKP on many ideological issues, and is run by a former cabinet minister from a pre-AKP government. Its nationalist agenda has led the MHP to strongly oppose President Erdogan’s peace process with the PKK.