Wednesday, November 4, 2015

November 4, 2015 - Turkey's Election Results

As you may have heard, Turkey held parliamentary elections this past weekend after the previous election failed to produce a ruling coalition. Turkey has a multi-party parliamentary system, and the last elections saw a minor Kurdish party win enough seats to deprive the incumbent Justice and Development party (AKP in Turkish) from having a sufficient share of the vote.

Current President Erdogan (pronounced air-duh-juan) has been leading Turkey as either President or Prime Minister since 2003 and he is also the face of the AKP. The last election was the first time his party lost control of the parliament. However, they were able to successfully regain power in the most recent election, riding a wave of nationalist popularity after stepping up their internal war on terror--works in America and works in Turkey too. Now, Erdogan is likely to see the past weekend's vote as a mandate to increase his counterterrorism efforts.

All of this has significant implications for the US because Turkey sees its main terrorist threat as a Kurdish separatist group called the PKK. Meanwhile, this same group is closely linked with the Syrian Kurds that have served as the US's most effective allies against ISIS. So even though the US and Turkey agree that they would like to remove Syrian President Assad, that's pretty much where the agreement ends. Turkey sees the Kurds (in Syria and Turkey) as a bigger threat than ISIS, and the US sees the Syrian Kurds as its key ally against ISIS. Needless to say, that makes discussions between the US and Turkey a bit awkward of late. And the nationalistic tenor of the latest election in Turkey means, like so many other things in Syria, this is probably going to get worse before it gets better.

For more details and commentary on the Turkish election, check out this great piece by Patrick Cockburn.

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