Going through some old papers the other day I came across a graphic I’d cut out of a newspaper back in 1999. It was a map of Turkey with the results of that year’s parliamentary election showing regional distribution of seats for all political parties. I’m attaching a more recent version in the interests of readability.
Five parties won seats in that election, and three independents. The largest share went to the 74 year-old Bülent Ecevit, whose Democratic Left Party (DSP) won 22% of the vote, and formed a coalition government with Devlet Bahçeli’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP – 18%) and Mesut Yılmaz’s Motherland Party (ANAP – 13%).
It was a measure of the people’s desperation in the face of 100% annual inflation and ongoing war in the southeast, that they brought back Ecevit – who had last served as Prime Minister 20 years before – and relegated the three parties most recently governing the country to the role of minor players.
- The Republican People’s Party, these days the most vociferous critics of the present government, failed to pass the 10% threshold and won no representation.
- The Kurdish Party (HADEP) also failed to pass the threshold – which is possibly an argument for lowering the bar to 5%.
- The western parts of the country, currently committed CHP supporters, in 1999 were firmly behind Ecevit’s DSP.
- The Islamic Virtue Party (FP – 15%) had re-emerged under yet another new name after being repeatedly closed down and banned by the secular establishment.
- Conspicuous by its absence is the Justice and Development Party (AKP) – which came into existence in 2002 as a result of voter disillusionment with the ongoing parliamentary shenanigans – and has now provided by far the country’s longest continuous period of stability since the death of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.