Looking forward to another inconclusive election

At LobeLog today, I look ahead to the possibility that Turkey’s November 1 snap election, a do over for its inconclusive June election, will itself prove inconclusive, as recent polling suggests it will:

Erdogan’s plan seems to be that, by increasing the violence with PKK, AKP can put together a new majority by peeling voters away from the right-wing, anti-Kurdish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which came in third place in June’s vote. But polls leading up to the snap elections are suggesting that, far from building a new path to a majority, AKP has actually lost support since June:

Support for Turkey’s ruling AK Party has slipped by 1.6 points from June’s election to 39.3 percent, a survey from pollster Gezici showed on Monday, casting doubt on the AKP’s chances of forming a single-party government after a Nov.1 vote.

The centre-right, Islamist-rooted AKP founded by President Tayyip Erdogan lost its single-party majority in June for the first time since coming to power in 2002, taking 40.9 percent of the vote.

There’s been no sign that either the Turkish government or the PKK is prepared to throttle back on the violence, which continues to worsen, and at this point there’s no reason to expect that things will improve before the election. Erdoğan is committed to trying to restore AKP’s parliamentary majority by raising public fears about another full-scale PKK uprising. He presumably thinks this does two things for AKP: it discredits the Kurdish party (HDP) by tying it to an enemy of the state (PKK), and it maybe drives some anti-Kurd/Turkish nationalist voters from the right-wing MHP and into AKP’s camp. This must make sense to him, but according to the evidence it just ain’t working. And if the November 1 vote doesn’t settle Turkey’s political situation, there are fears that Erdoğan will do something drastic in advance of a second snap election, like explicitly disenfranchising the Kurds.

Erdoğan is doing all this violent electioneering while his policy in Syria has just been upended by Russia’s recent moves. It is, for example, exceedingly unlikely that Erdoğan will try to enforce his unspoken border area no-fly zone against Russian aircraft, and Erdoğan is now stuck between his desire for decent relations with Moscow on the one hand and regime change in Damascus on the other. In fact, there were signs after Erdoğan’s visit to Moscow last week that he may be softening his anti-Assad stance toward something resembling America’s “managed transition” idea, perhaps as a concession to Vladimir Putin. But Syria’s Kurds have a fairly good relationship with Moscow, so Russia’s direct entry into the Syrian war may complicate things for Erdoğan across the board.

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