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Riding the Electoral Roller Coaster in Turkey: How to Read the Results of the June and November 2015 Elections?


The dramatic finale of the election storm in the country came unexpectedly. We have yet to understand the details of the conservative shift that brought the AK Party to power one more time. What is more of a concern at this stage on a speculative level is the potential impact of mass security concerns on Turkish democracy. As Turkey remains in tense international conflict on its southern Syrian border, the saliency of security concerns fueled by the Kurdish conflict also provides ample ground for limitations and constraints to be imposed upon Turkish democracy. These security concerns are likely to be coupled with the waning importance of performance politics. As a rule, without performing acceptably in meeting the demands and expectations of the masses, especially on the economic front, a government could not stay in power. The last experience of the November elections, however, could be taken as evidence of electoral success without noticeable performance advantage. The AK Party’s success appears to be driven not by its performance but rather by its successful management of the changing agenda, by ontological polarisation as a basis for credibility while facing an uncertain future, and by a de facto constrained campaign effort on the part of the opposition. Such constraints upon the opposition and the media at large can only mean deteriorating democratic standards in the country.

Paper produced within the framework of the project Turkey, Europe and the World.

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