(Note: This post has been updated to 1) add Istanbul to the provinces where Kurdish parties were active in 2011, 2) adding the other large cities Ankara, Izmir, Bursa, and Adana to the neighborhood-level analysis, and 3) adding graph of partial correlation between Refah vote share in 1995 and HDP vote swing in 2015.)
Given yesterday’s tumultuous election in Turkey, I thought it might be a good idea illustrate using the data available what just happened.
There’s the obvious: AKP lost about 10 percentage points of its vote share, and the Kurdish-and-what-not HDP received around 13 percentage points, pushing it above the ten percent threshold, allowing it to take seats in parliament – as far as I know, the first time a political party with such a clear pro-Kurdish constituency has done so. This means AKP’s seats in parliament fell from the 327 it won in 2011 down to 258.
Then there’s what it all means, which there’s no way I can discuss in one post. Instead I want to focus specifically here on the HDP and what kind of electorate brought it above the ten percent threshold.
Some herald Demirtaş. the HDP, and its electoral success as the comeback of the left or liberalism (here and here), noting amongst others his supportive stance toward the LGBT community as well as his background as a human rights lawyer. It is not for nothing that many refer to him as “Kurdish Obama”.
A following question is then to what extent HDP’s electoral success is a manifestation of the voting power of progressives and liberals in Turkey?
Despite talk of “borrowed votes”, i.e. strategic voting by (I assume) predominantly traditional CHP supporters, an initial look at the election suggests that what pushed HDP into parliament was a shift among traditional right-wing voters – the socially conservative Kurdish communities in the East and some living in the large cities who abandoned the AKP for the HDP.