Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wanted his Justice and Development Party (AKP) to win a huge majority in parliamentary elections on Sunday, giving him the votes to change the constitution and increase the power of the presidency. Instead, Turkish voters stripped the AKP of its parliamentary majority for the first time since Erdogan won power as prime minister 13 years ago.
With 99.9 percent of the votes counted, the AKP won about 41 percent of the vote, according to state-run TRT television, down from almost 50 percent in 2011 elections. That would give the party an estimated 258 seats in the 550-seat Grand National Assembly, down from 327 currently and a far cry from the 400 Erdogan had set as his goal. In second place was the secular Republican People's Party, with about 25 percent. The nationalist MHP, the AKP's likely new governing partner, won about 16 percent.
In many ways, the election's big winner was the predominantly Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), which won about 13 percent of the vote, putting it for the first time above the 10 percent threshold needed to win seats in parliament. The HDP expanded its reach by running female, gay, and other minority candidates, and by pitching itself as a check on Erdogan's push for more power.
"The outcome is an end to Erdogan's presidential ambitions," said Soner Cagaptay at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Along with Erdogan, the big loser was Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whose political future is now uncertain. He declared victory anyway, telling a crowd of supporters on Sunday that "everyone should see that the AKP is the winner and leader of these elections." No party, he added, "should try to build a victory from an election they lost."