Voters Hand Turkish President A Setback In His Attempt To Expand Powers Turkish voters stripped President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party of a simple majority. The unexpected setback delays his aim of passing constitutional changes which would have boosted his powers.
NPR logo

Voters Hand Turkish President A Setback In His Attempt To Expand Powers

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/412805080/412805081" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Voters Hand Turkish President A Setback In His Attempt To Expand Powers

Voters Hand Turkish President A Setback In His Attempt To Expand Powers

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/412805080/412805081" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Since taking office as Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been doing his best to turn what's been a largely ceremonial post into something much more powerful. Yesterday, Turkish voters put those moves on hold. The country's ruling party lost its majority in Parliament, and for the first time, a party representing the country's Kurdish minority will claim seats. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF FIREWORKS)

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: It was a night of fireworks and dancing in Kurdish southeastern Turkey. The mostly Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, or HDP, appears to have finally overcome Turkey's 10 percent threshold to enter Parliament. Party leader Selahattin Demirtas told supporters that the vote was a decisive rejection of giving more power to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SELAHATTIN DEMIRTAS: (Through interpreter) Discussions about dictatorship, discussions about the presidential system have come to an end in Turkey as of now. Turkey has been able to step away from the brink of a disaster.

KENYON: Demirtas is credited with attracting non-Kurds to the party in significant numbers, thanks to its reinvention as a pro-minority, pro-democracy party. The HDP is sending dozens of women MPs to Parliament. Four minority Christians will also become lawmakers, two of them from the Kurdish party. Even so, many Turks harbor doubts that the party has moved beyond its dream of an independent Kurdistan. Dissatisfaction with Erdogan's policies and ambitions, though, appears to have driven a sizable number of his former supporters into opposition camps. Erdogan was forced to leave the ruling AK party when he ran for the largely symbolic office of president. Since then, he's been trying to change the Constitution to give his office far more power. Erdogan's efforts have overshadowed Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, nominally the head of the party. Davutoglu put a brave face on the results. He pointed out that despite losing its simple majority in Parliament, the AKP has now won four elections in a row.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRIME MINISTER AHMET DAVUTOGLU: (Through interpreter) The AKP is the winner and finished first in this election. There's no doubt about that. Nobody should make a victory out of an election loss. Everyone should reassess themselves.

KENYON: But as Turkey's opposition party celebrate, uncertainty is beginning to creep in about what happens next. The AKP needs to join forces with at least one opposition party to lead a coalition government. So far, none has expressed a willingness to do so. If coalition efforts fail, Erdogan could call for new elections in about six weeks. Turkey's economy, the future of the Kurdish peace process, and Ankara's ties with allies worried about the war in Syria and other regional conflicts could be hanging in the balance. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Istanbul.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.