Exciting elections last Sunday, very exciting. I’m not gonna keep you posted here about the general results or the implications of that, because others did that already and I don’t have much to add to what Aengus Collins writes. Let me focus on an update about people I wrote about during and before the elections.
* On election day I went to the Istanbul neighbourhood of Tarlabaşı, to taste the atmosphere and interview voters for a story for news agency ANP. Tarlabaşı is mainly inhabited by Kurds and they all supported independent candidate Sirri Sureyya Önder. Many independents were running for pro-Kurdish party BDP, which wouldn’t be able to pass the 10% threshold without this trick. Önder is not Kurdish himself, he’s actually a famous intellectual and film director who has been supporting the Kurdish cause for ages and was asked by the BDP to join them.
Önder did exceptionally well: he got 119.912 votes, ten of thousands more than he needed to get elected. And the other independent BDP candidates, some of whom were initially banned from participating in the elections (read my article on that here and here)? They sure had a celebration party on Sunday night: they previously had 22 seats in parliament and will now have 36, a huge victory.
* Journalist Balbay, candidate for the CHP. He is in jail and has been for more than two years now, a suspect in the Ergenekon case. Balbay was elected, and MP’s get immunity so it looks like he’ll be released from jail. I’m not sure at the moment if that happened already.
* Damla Cihangir and other young CHP supporters. Disappointment: they hoped CHP leader Kilicdaroglu would gather at least 28 to 30% of the votes, but he only got 26%. It doesn’t make the position of Kilicdaroglu any stronger, to say the least. But Damla let me know she didn’t lose her enthusiasm – of course she didn’t, she and her friends are dedicated to their cause to make the CHP relevant for more people and are regaining their strength!
* Aynur Bayram, independent, head-scarfed candidate in Ankara. She needed 10,000 votes and got…568. A great disappointment. I got a press release from her, in which she complained about the Turkish press and states that they didn’t put her on their screens and paper for commercial reasons. I believe she is partly right and that she could have been more successful if the media had picked up her story. On the other hand, her decision to run for Parliament was made very suddenly and at the last moment. She didn’t have time to think her strategy through in detail. It’s time for a woman with a headscarf to enter parliament, but for many people that’s not reason enough to support a candidate by actually voting for her. Pity it didn’t work out, she deserved more, this very brave young woman!
And the rest of the election results? Well, they’ve been all over the papers, haven’t they? I’m glad the AKP didn’t get enough seats in parliament to rewrite the constitution on its own and I wholeheartedly hope the several relevant parties stick to their responsibilities and draw up a constitution that will serve Turkey well into the future. Like I adviced them here ;-)