Earlier this month Turkey held an election for all 550 seats in the Turkish Parliament.  The election was widely viewed as a referendum on President Tayyip Erdogan's administration, particularly since the President has been seeking a constitutional amendment to transition Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidentialist system, which would grant him more power.  The Turkish electorate; however, voted against President Erdogan’s growing autocratic tendencies and his party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), lost the majority which it had held for thirteen years in the Turkish Parliament.  

Earlier this month Turkey held an election for all 550 seats in the Turkish Parliament.  The election was widely viewed as a referendum on President Tayyip Erdogan's administration, particularly since the President has been seeking a constitutional amendment to transition Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidentialist system, which would grant him more power.  The Turkish electorate; however, voted against President Erdogan’s growing autocratic tendencies and his party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), lost the majority which it had held for thirteen years in the Turkish Parliament.  

Now, the AKP will probably have to form a coalition with one of the three opposition parties in Parliament even though it remains the largest party with 258/550 seats (41% of the vote).  The main opposition party, the left-leaning Republican People’s Party (CHP) took 25% of the vote (132 seats), followed by the right-leaning Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) with 16.5% of the vote (80 seats).  

The electoral upstart was the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) which successfully crossed the 10% threshold required to enter Parliament by winning 13% of the vote, which translates into 80 seats. To gain enough votes to cross the threshold the HDP partnered with numerous liberal groups including women, the LGBT community, and the Armenian community; including the first ever openly gay candidate and an Armenian candidate.  

The exact shape that the eventual coalition government will take remains unknown but the general belief is that the most probable coalition will contain the AKP and the MHP because they are the most ideologically similar parties.  The CHP had proposed working with the MHP and forming a rotating premiership so as to exclude the AKP from the coalition, but the MHP quickly refused, and began making more overt overtures to the AKP.  President Erdogan has asked the AKP party leader and former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to begin forming a government; if he is unsuccessful and unable to form a coalition snap elections could be called for mid to late August.  

Even with an AKP-MHP coalition numerous issues remain on the table.  One preeminent issue relates to Turkish Kurdistan; the AKP has been in talks with the Kurds and has committed itself to granting greater freedom to the region. Now that the HDP has seats in Parliament this issue will certainly remain at the forefront of political concerns; however, the MHP remains against granting any devolution to Turkish Kurdistan and refuses to work with the HDP which it believes is still linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a designated terrorist group.  

Regardless of the eventual coalition formation, certain changes will occur in Turkey because the AKP and President Erdogan will be governing in coalition, and from a weakened position.  In addition to dashing President Erdogan’s presidentialist aspirations, the crackdown on freedom of the press and assembly, which took place in Turkey over the last year, is already showing signs of lessening.  It is also thought that the massive corruption scandal, which shook Turkey in December 2013 and throughout 2014, will be revisited and it is hoped that the investigation into the 14 accused AKP members will be reopened.  

The Erdogan government claimed that the whole scandal was a coup attempt against the government, particularly after evidence emerged that the President’s son was involved.  The government then forced the prosecutor’s office to brush the charges away and return the $17.5 million in cash, with interest, that the police had confiscated from the accused that had been reportedly used in bribery schemes.  The other three parties in Parliament have all said that the corruption cases will be reopened as a condition of forming a government with the AKP.  

Even though foreign affairs was not a focus during the election it could have implications for US relations with Turkey.  Relations with the Erdogan government were damaged over the past two years due to his autocratic tendencies and the corruption scandal, which was particularly embarrassing as the US had held Turkey up as a model for the region.  In addition, the Erdogan government’s focus on ousting Assad in Syria, instead of on the fight against ISIL, deteriorated relations due to competing priorities.  

Now that the HDP is in the Parliament they could become a US ally, as the Turkish Kurdish population is one of the few groups in Turkey which is pro-US, largely because of US intervention against ISIL in Kobani where the US intervened to assist Syrian Kurds.  The HDP’s young and charismatic leader Selahattin Demirtas is expected to play a major role as the leader who brought the HDP to electoral victory and could help swing Turkey back towards the US.

Since the coalition remains unformed the majority of what is written here is speculation.  Yesterday, Turkey’s new parliament convened for the first time since the election on June 7th for the swearing-in of the new deputies.  How this body will ultimately form a coalition to govern remains to be seen, but it is certain that the countries politics will take a different direction as President Erdogan’s attempt to consolidate power was foiled by the Turkish electorate and this will hopefully lead to more freedoms for the Turkish people and a more inclusive society.