Turkish far-right 'unprecedentedly' consolidates voters

As one of the most crucial elections of modern Turkey’s history ends, the Turkish parliament now hosts plenty of far-fight MPs while the vote share of the far-right parties is even higher than in the previous elections. Additionally, the far-right coalition’s presidential candidate Sinan Oğan acquired the role of kingmaker in the runoff elections as he received five percent of the votes.

Women in a MHP rally make the far-right party's signature hand sign.

Can Bodrumlu / Duvar English

According to unofficial results, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost seven percent of its vote share in the parliamentary elections held on May 14. Also, its coalition partner far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lost one percent of its vote share. While the AKP lost 28 seats in the parliament, the MHP gained one more seat. 

One of the main questions regarding the election is who consolidated the voters detaching from the ruling party. 

During the run-up to the elections, the AKP convinced the far-right Islamist New Welfare Party (YRP) to join the People’s Alliance by signing a protocol that aims to curtail the rights of women and the LGBTI+ community. The YRP received 2.82 percent of the votes and gained five seats in the parliament for the first time because it is part of the ruling electoral alliance.

The parties that receive less than seven percent of the votes cannot enter the parliament due to the electoral threshold. Nonetheless, the threshold is not applicable if they are part of an alliance that receives more than the threshold. 

Because of the aforementioned rule, the far-right Victory Party (ZP) cannot enter the parliament even though it received 2.23 percent of the votes. The party gained a lot of popularity due to its anti-immigrant stance, especially towards the millions of Syrian refugees living in the country. 

Additionally, three out of four candidates from the Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR) were elected as MPs from the AKP’s list. The HÜDA-PAR has been at the center of the controversy due to its direct affiliation with the radical Islamist terrorist organization Hizbullah. In the 2018 elections, the party received only 0,31 percent of the votes and did not gain any seats.

HÜDA-PAR enters the Turkish Parliament for the first time.

On the other side of the political spectrum, the main opposition Nation Alliance also consists of right-wing parties such as the Islamist Felicity Party which gained 10 seats in the parliament, and the Good (İYİ) Party that received 9.69 percent of the votes and 44 seats. Former MHP executives founded the İYİ Party after they had an internal clash with the MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli when he decided to support President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Furthermore, far-right ATA Alliance’s presidential candidate Sinan Oğan's achievement of securing 5.17% of the votes has bestowed upon him the pivotal role of a kingmaker, capable of tipping the scales in favor of any of the candidates in the runoff vote. This significant development places him at the center stage of the most crucial elections in the contemporary history of Turkey. 

Sinan Oğan

Ultra-nationalist Oğan is in the same line as the ZP for the immigration policy. His political career as well started in the MHP before his departure at the same time as the founders of the İYİ. 

As the vote shares of the far-right parties and candidates indicate, they were able to consolidate the voters who broke away from the AKP to a large extent. The pre-election polls failed to take into account the YRP's huge leap in votes and the rise in the MHP’s power.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) changing stance under Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu toward more inclusive politics failed to capture conservative voters once again. The far-right politicians from different perspectives were able to capture these free-floating voters as center politics lost power. 

Turkey has been experiencing a similar path with its global counterparts. The leftist and center parties struggle to capture the voters who have been facing detrimental consequences of the economic crisis and allured by the far-right discourse. 

In the run-up to the second round of the presidential election, the opposition will have to decide on a critical issue regarding their stance: will they opt for the continuation of their somewhat inclusive campaign embracing different segments of society or will they play their cards for the voters captured by the far-right politics?