By Nick Robins-Early, with additional material from Hurriyet
ANKARA (Huffington Post, Hurriyet) — Turkey held parliamentary elections on June 7 in a vote that saw President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lose its single-party majority after 13 years in power. It also propelled four Christian minority members into the legislature, three of whom are Armenians.
As support for the AKP waned among voters, a progressive new pro-Kurdish party helmed by a charismatic young leader made surprising gains. The Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, is one of the biggest stories to emerge from the election, and it represents a new power player in Turkish politics.
The HDP garnered about 13 percent of the vote in the June 7 polls, overcoming Turkey’s high barrier to enter the national parliament, where parties must carry at least 10 percent of the electorate in order to join the chamber. This will be the HDP’s debut in Turkey’s parliament, and it will mark the first time in Turkish history that an overtly Kurdish party has made it in. Its 80 seats put it in a position to block Erdogan’s efforts to consolidate power for himself, potentially stopping the ruling AKP from achieving the majority it would need to pass legislation endowing the president with more influence.
Headquartered in the southern city of Diyarbakir, the HDP formed in 2012 from a collection of smaller pro-Kurdish political groups. Due to Turkey’s electoral rules, it had previously run its candidates as independents in order to skirt around the 10 percent threshold for parliament, but increased popularity and a wider base of support led to a unified run this time around.
The party as it stands now is not solely a pro-Kurdish party, but one that incorporates a variety of liberal interest groups that have helped it break into government.