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Turkey

Two Very Different Winners In Turkey’s Election

Analysis: Voters in Sunday’s national election in Turkey rewarded the governing AKP party, in power for the past eight years, for a job well done. But the success of the leading Kurdish party shows the country's "seminal question&quo

Campaign poster for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an of the AKP
Campaign poster for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an of the AKP
Ismet Berkan

ISTANBUL - First off, we need to acknowledge the extraordinary success of the center-right Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Sunday's elections.

Impressively, the AKP managed to raise its vote total to the 50% threshold, improving on the significant gains it had already made in the 2007 election, when it drew 46.6% of the vote (up from 34% in 2002). The party's strong finish is all the more noteworthy because of the dip it suffered in 2009 local elections, when it won just 38.17% of the vote.

I have been trying to remind our readers of a basic truth that too many refuse to acknowledge: the ruling AKP government has performed very well over the past eight years. The investments it made in areas such as health care, road works and transportation are factors that had a direct impact on the outcome of this 2011 national election. Added to this is Turkey's growing wealth and bulging middle class, a relative decrease in poverty, an increase in the relocation of the rural poor to cities, and improvements to the rural economy that allow people who remain in the countryside an opportunity to live off agriculture and even save capital in some cases. These facts need to be accepted: it is no longer possible to create a new political discourse without recognizing these improvements.

During the campaign leading up to the election, the two leading parties – the AKP and the Republican People's Party (CHP) – widely discussed their platforms. The vote shows that the voting public preferred the aggressive AKP plans over the dreamier projects put forward by the opposition CHP.

There is another lesson here for the opposition. People are not just interested in plans to alleviate existing problems. They also like forward-looking ideas that point the way to toward future development. It is crucial for a party to present positive new ideas and dreams for the future.

But while it is important we recognize the AKP's massive victory, we must also draw attention to the other victor of these elections; the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). The BDP will have 36 members in the new parliament. Many of these new BDP members are entering the parliament as ‘independent" party members. If the Turkish constitution did not require that parties must cross a nationwide 10% vote threshold to post deputies, then the BDP might have had upwards of 60 members in parliament.

With these 36 new members, the Turkish government may have a new opportunity to address the Kurdish issue. The only area in which the AKP lost ground was in that part of Turkey which has the highest number of Kurds, the southeast. These election results, in other words, show that we are face-to-face with a brand new set of parameters when it comes to the seminal ‘Kurdish Question," which is the starting point from which all other problems and issues arise in Turkey.

I save my final sentence for the opposition CHP party. Even though their vote haul increased from 20% to 26%, party leaders should be sure not to consider these election results a success .

Photo - Adam Jones Ph.D.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Searching For Marianna, A Pregnant Doctor From Mariupol Held Captive By The Russians

We’ve heard about the plight of the soldiers-turned-prisoners from Mariupol. Here are some traces of the disturbing fate of a young female doctor who’s been taken away.

A paper dove reads "Mariupol" at a shelter for displaced children in Uzhhorod, western Ukraine.

Paweł Smoleński

"Wait for me, because I will return…"

Marianna Mamonova wrote these words to her family, among the text messages and short phone calls that are the only remaining fragments used to piece together her recent past. We also have a photo of her, posted on Russian websites, where she looks into the lens, gaunt and exhausted, signed with a number like a concentration camp prisoner.

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Until the Russian-Ukrainian war, Mamonova’s biography was available to anyone who wanted to know. She was born in 1991, studied at the Ternopil Medical University, and later at the Kyiv Military Academy. After completing her studies, she was sent to work in the coastal city of Berdiansk. Her mother says that this is where her daughter's dream came true: She’d always wanted to be a military doctor, and worked in Berdiansk for three years, receiving the rank of officer in the Ukrainian army.

Beginning in 2014, she’d worked stints as a front-line doctor in the Donbas region, and when Russia invaded Ukraine in February she went to war again. This time in Mariupol.

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