Right-wing lawmakers dominate Turkish parliament

Even though Turkey’s presidential race went to a second round on May 14, the parliamentary elections have been finalized. Some 600 MPs who will serve for five years are mostly from the right-wing political traditions, with many from ultra-nationalist and radical Islamist backgrounds.

Duvar English

On May 14, Turkey elected its parliamentary deputies, even though the presidential election went to a second round. The 600 MPs who will represent their elected provinces in the parliament for five years began to receive their mandates. Although three main electoral alliances dominated the propaganda process, 16 political parties will be represented in the parliament. 

Accordingly, the five political parties within the ruling People's Alliance will be Justice and Development Party (AKP), the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Democratic Left Party (DSP), Islamist New Welfare Party (YRP), and the radical Islamist Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR). 

Six political parties from the main opposition Nation Alliance will be the Republican People’s Party, nationalist Good (İYİ) Party, center-right DEVA, Future Party, and Democrat Party (DP) along with Islamist Felicity Party (SP). 

Additionally, four parties from the leftist Labor and Freedom Alliance will be the Green and Left Party (YSP), Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP), Social Freedom Party (TÖP), and Labor Party (EMEP). 

Having at least 20 deputies are required to form a group in parliament. Hence, the AKP, CHP, YSP, MHP, İYİ are entitled to form a parliamentary group. The DEVA, Future Party, SP, and DP won 37 seats in total by entering the parliament from the CHP lists, and they may unite under an umbrella party to form a group.

A "rough" political reading of the ideologies of the 16 political parties reveals that 10 of them are on the right and six on the left of the political spectrum. 

The distribution of seats in the parliament clearly demonstrates that the ideological balance of the parliament is shaped in favor of right-wing parties. There are at least 404 MPs who identify themselves as "nationalist," "conservative," or "nationalist-conservative." Moreover, at least nine of these 404 MPs are from HÜDA-PAR and YRP which are radical Islamist parties. The HÜDA-PAR has been at the center of the controversy due to its direct affiliation with the radical Islamist terrorist organization Hizbullah. 

Nonetheless, this is not the first time right-wing parties have dominated the Turkish parliament. For instance, the radical Islamist Virtue Party and far-right MHP dominated the parliament in 1999. 

Women's representation also increased in the new parliamentary term drew attention. The number of women MPs increased from 100 to 121 in this term. There are 50 women MPs in AKP, 30 in CHP, 30 in YSP, four in MHP, and one in TİP. The YSP has the highest ratio of women MPs as it has strict women quotas in its election lists. 

Additionally, lawyers have a remarkable dominance in the parliament. Some 123 out of 600 deputies, or 20.5 percent of the parliament, are lawyers. Lawyer Can Atalay, who was convicted in the Gezi Park trial last year, will be released from jail and will be a parliamentarian from the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) once the election results are finalized.

No alliance can change the constitution alone

During the election process, the opposition's biggest promise was a return to the parliamentary system from the presidential system. However, the opposition failed to secure a majority to amend the constitution. Therefore, it became certain that parliament would carry out its work under the presidential government system for another term.

Constitutional change was also among the promises of the ruling alliance. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has frequently stated that they will definitely bring a “civilian and liberal constitution” to the agenda of parliament after the elections. The alliance partner MHP even had a 100-article draft constitution ready. However, just like the opposition, the People’s Alliance failed to get the majority needed to change the constitution.