Turkey’s political stability has faced a severe test since the country’s June 7 general election. A divided electorate, with no party obtaining a clear majority, ushered in a period of intense uncertainty in a region which continues to experience high levels of conflict and terrorism. Then, on July 20, a bomber suspected to be a member of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) attacked a gathering of pro-Kurdish volunteer workers in the district of Suruc, killing 32 people and wounding dozens more. The government was quick to condemn the violence, while opponents accused it of failing to prevent the attacks. The reaction to the criticism has been pronounced, with a series of military measures designed to safeguard the state and challenge its domestic and regional opponents.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) was already on shaky ground prior to the attacks. The 40% of the vote it achieved in the general election was its lowest percentage since 2002. AKP still dominated in its traditional central and rural strongholds, but its power was undermined by a strong showing by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which secured 13% of the ballot, thanks in no small part to a large turnout in the Kurdish southeastern provinces. The primary opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), also secured 25% of the vote, with a strong showing in numerous western coastal districts. AKP’s failure to secure a majority and create a coalition government has set the stage for another vote. In the interim, the opposition has sought to increase the political pressure by supporting anti-government protests condemning the apparent inability to ensure Turkey’s security. Read more