ISTANBUL (Combined Sources)—The three Armenians who were elected in June to Turkey’s parliament, were re-elected Sunday in that country’s special election, which saw the ruling Justice and Development party leaping to victory.
Garo Paylan, who ran on the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) ticket, Markar Esayan from the AKP and Selina Ozuzun Dogan from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) won in the Sunday elections.
Turkey’s ruling AKP won the parliamentary election, regaining the majority it lost in June.
With almost all ballots counted, the state-run Anadolu news agency said the AKP had won 49.4% of the vote, with the main opposition CHP on 25.4%.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said voters had “shown that they prefer action and development to controversy”.
The pro-Kurdish HDP crossed the 10% threshold needed to claim seats. The nationalist MHP will also take seats in Ankara.
With almost all of the results counted, the AKP had won substantially more than the 276 seats needed in order to form a government alone. However, it fell 14 seats short of the number needed to call a referendum on changing the constitution and increasing the powers of the president, AKP founder Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Hours after the landslide victory, AKP leader and interim Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu addressed the pro-AK Party groups gathered in front of the party’s headquarters in Ankara on Sunday night. He adopted an inclusive stance concerning the country’s dissenters through his messages promising to establish peace across the country and to form a new civilian Constitution, reported Today’s Zaman.
In his balcony speech, Davutoglu called all political parties to come together and agree on a new Constitution following his party’s regaining of its parliamentary majority. He said; “Let’s work together towards a Turkey where conflict, tension and polarization are non-existent and everyone salutes each other in peace,” Reuters reported.
On the other hand, Davutoğlu spoke vaguely about pressing ahead with the peace process with the country’s Kurds but said Turkey was determined to continue its fight against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). “We won’t step back from our determination to find a solution or to fight terrorism,” the prime minister said.
Paylan told Today’s Zaman that if Davutoglu’s speech in Ankara is put into practice, then the country will feel relief.
“The HDP, as an opposition party, is ready to take its place at the negotiation table for a new Constitution that encompasses all segments of society by fulfilling their demands for a freer and democratic life. We don’t want tears and blood. The steps towards this end should be immediately launched so that social relief and healing is achieved. Turkey is in need of peace, not conflict,” Paylan told Today’s Zaman.
HDP leaders said that unfair election conditions and a deliberate policy of polarization by Erdogan explain the drop in numbers of votes garnered by the party.
The HDP was forced to cancel election rallies following two deadly attacks on pro-Kurdish gatherings since July. Television stations gave party representatives little air-time amid government attacks branding the party as the political wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered a terrorist organization by official Ankara.
HDP’s co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas told reporters that “there wasn’t a fair or equal election… We were not able to lead an election campaign. We tried to protect our people against attacks,” reported Today’s Zaman.
Co-chair Figen Yuksekdag said he HDP would analyze in a detail a drop in its support since the last parliamentary election in June, but said the fact the party had crossed the 10 percent threshold needed to enter parliament was nonetheless a success.
She said the HDP has faced the most challenging circumstances during this process and recalled that 258 civilians, including 33 children, lost their lives during the last five months since the June 7 election. “Yet, today’s success was achieved by those who walked against attacks,” she said.
OSCE Says Elections were Marred by Violence
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) charged in a damning report on Monday that Turkey’s election was marred by a media crackdown, violence and other security concerns, Agence France Presse reported.
It said the campaign for Sunday’s vote was characterised by “unfairness” and “fear” after a surge in violence.
“While Turkish citizens could choose between genuine and strong political alternatives in this highly polarized election, the rapidly diminishing choice of media outlets, and restrictions on freedom of expression in general, impacted the process and remain serious concerns,” Ignacio Sanchez Amor, special coordinator and leader of the OSCE observer mission, said in a statement.
Concerns over media freedoms were already running high in the run-up to the poll after riot police last week stormed the Ankara and Istanbul offices of two television stations critical of the Turkish strongman.
“Physical attacks on party members, as well as the significant security concerns, particularly in the southeast, further imposed restrictions on the ability to campaign,” Amor added.
A massive suicide bombing on a peace rally in Ankara last month killed 102 people in the worst attack in the country’s history, with political parties temporarily suspending campaigning.
“Unfortunately, the campaign for these elections was characterized by unfairness and, to a serious degree, fear,” said Andreas Gross, head of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) delegation.
He called on Erdogan to work for an “inclusive political process” to deal with challenges facing Turkey.
The elections were also held against a backdrop of a military campaign against Kurdish rebels in the southeast of Turkey and in northern Iraq after attacks on security forces by the militants.
Observers said the army’s operations in the Kurdish-dominated southeast hampered the ability of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to campaign.
“For an election process to be truly democratic, candidates need to feel that they can campaign and voters need to feel that they can cast their ballots in a safe and secure environment,” said Margareta Cederfelt, head of the OSCE parliamentary assembly delegation.