Turkish Election: The Political Boomerang Threatening Erdogan

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) may not have enough seats to form a government if the main Kurdish party passes the 10% election threshold.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine in Istanbul
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine in Istanbul
Fuat Keyman


ISTANBUL — The boomerang is a weapon native to Australia, which famously has the capacity to return to strike the shooter, turning the hunter into the hunted.

That metaphor comes to mind when reading and hearing a certain sense of worry from Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections on Sunday. Party leaders face the fear that if their share of the vote decreases to around 43%, and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) passes the 10% election threshold, the AKP may not manage to get 276 members in the parliament — the necessary number to form a government on their own.

They are calling on the people who have voted for the AKP in the previous elections, but are indecisive this time, or may simply abstain from voting. "You may be angry at the AKP for this or that reason, but beware of the consequences of the decision of not going to the ballot box," is the message. "We may wake up after the vote to see that the AKP cannot form a government. Go and vote."

A HDP election stand in Germany on May 3— Photo:

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said, “These elections will hold surprises until the very last minute,” which is meant to mobilize voters who lean his way.

History bites back

Everybody asks these two questions: Will the AKP have 276 seats? Will the HDP — a coalition of leftist and Kurdish parties that banded together to gain strength — make it into Parliament? The 10% threshold is the common factor implicit in both questions. The AKP has defended the threshold the name of stability. This support for the high threshold is what has created the risk that AKP might not have the numbers to form a government. It is the proverbial boomerang turning around Turkish politics right now.

The current concerns of President Erdogan and his AKP allies gives us the opportunity to say this one more time: The 10% threshold is anti-democratic; it is also risky not only for the parties that don't receive enough votes to pass it, but for the ones that receive high percentages as well.

The AKP had won 64% of the parliamentary seats in the 2002 elections when they came to power thanks to the threshold — despite the fact that they had received only 34% of the votes. Today, again because of this threshold, they may not be able to hold the power with the 44% of the votes. What worked for them in 2002 may work against them in 2015.

The threshold was unacceptable then and it is unacceptable now.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!