Electoral Results and the Tasks

Electoral Results and the Tasks

The municipal elections resulted in what we can describe as a historical turning point for Turkey. According to preliminary results from the March 31 local elections, the CHP emerged as the leading party for the first time in 47 years, while the AKP dropped to second place for the first time in 22 years. The results indicate that the CHP garnered 37.74% of the vote nationwide, while the AKP followed with 35.49%. Notably, the AKP lost significant ground since the 2019 elections, forfeiting control over the most important provinces, such as İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir, and Bursa including the majority of their districts, besides losing 5 million votes. In the 2024 elections, the CHP secured a total of 420 mayoralty, including 14 metropolitan municipalities. This marked an increase in the number of metropolitan municipalities governed by the CHP. Additionally, the CHP won several previously contested cities, expanding its influence.


In metropolitan areas, the CHP's candidates, Ekrem İmamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş, widened their impact over their AKP counterparts in Istanbul and Ankara, respectively. The Yeniden Refah Party(YRP), which is another Islamist far-right party, emerged as a notable contender in certain regions, surpassing expectations. The Kurdish Party DEM Party has also made gains in various regions and is experiencing serious declines in its vote rate in general, as it took back the places where trustees were appointed by the AKP instead of its elected leaders after the 2019 elections. Furthermore, the fascist party  MHP experienced a decline in votes and lost control over several municipalities it previously held. Among smaller parties, including the populist left party TİP, the picture is more complicated, with some failing to reach the 1% mark. SEP Central Committee Member V.U Arslan analyzed the results of the elections with an emphasis on the necessary duties of the socialist left in Turkey; 



AKP suffered the biggest electoral defeat in its history in the elections held on March 31 as the CHP achieved one of the biggest successes in its history. How did these results, which went beyond expectations and surprised everyone, become possible?


Class Issues Came to the Fore


In my opinion, the biggest factor was polarizations based on nationalism and religion did not work this time. It is clear that the agitation carried out through the so-called “internal and external enemies” had lost its power over the people in last year's elections. The discourse of “Terror-supporter CHP” or “AKP for survival” was outdated. The economic crisis is hitting the working masses so hard that class issues dominated this election. So much so that poverty increased in the country and families, just like the country, were deeply in debt. Credit cards became non-refundable. It became impossible to afford the very basic needs in the market. As a result, the urban poor, AKP's traditional voting base, have now abandoned the AKP en masse.


While the country's resources were handed over to big companies, the cost of being told "there is no money" when it came to the workers had serious consequences for the AKP. AKP had no money left to run an “election economy” which can bring popular support. It was not a good signal for Erdogan that he had to tell retirees who wanted an improvement in their salaries that there was “no money left” in every meeting where he spoke.


Smaller Parties Crushed


These conditions made it possible for the main opposition party, CHP, to achieve great success with reaction votes. The natural address of the reaction votes against the AKP would be the "promising candidate", and this candidate was none other than the CHP candidate with the overwhelming majority. In this situation, small parties were stuck in between and virtually erased. Another nationalist party separated from fascist MHP,  İYİP and Meral Akşener lost drastically. Akşener, who could not see what is quite visible and could not understand that she was committing political suicide, brought her to the end. Apart from İYİP, parties such as Memleket Party, Gelecek and Deva (all small parties divided from AKP) also became invisible. The far-right Zafer Party, which has recently shown signs of strengthening, was among those who were caught in the middle and disappointed. However, the hostility towards immigrants that created the fascist Ümit Özdağ will continue to keep him alive politically. 


Dem Party is in a bad mood


Although the Dem Party showed the expected success in the Kurdish regions and collapsed the trustee coup, it fraudulently lost the municipalities in many cities through the state's transfer of military votes in the region. It seems that DEM votes in the West are turning towards CHP. The fact that these votes tend to become permanent in the CHP puts the DEM Party under serious pressure. CHP's defeat of AKP without DEM's official support also reduced DEM's political bargaining power. Contradictory statements from DEM leadership before the election show the pressure and confusion inside the Kurdish national movement front. Whether Erdoğan will appoint trustees to DEM municipalities or whether Erdoğan will move away from MHP will be closely monitored by the DEM. In this process, it became clear that if Erdoğan adopted a more liberal attitude from now on, DEM would not remain insensitive to this change.


The Rise of YRP


The clear winner of the election after CHP was YRP. YRP positions itself as an anti-systemic force by combining religious rhetoric with left-wing discourse. YRP handled AKP's hypocrisy and economic mismanagement regarding Palestine well during the local election process. As such, there have been significant shifts from the conservative sections of the urban poor to the YRP ranks. The fact that AKP has become open to the dual pressure of CHP and YRP in bourgeois politics shows that the upcoming period will be very difficult for it.


Chronic Pessimists Left Without Excuses


Baseless assumptions that spread pessimism and discouragement, such as that this country and its people would never change, were refuted in these elections. It was important to disperse this overbearing mechanical memorization that despises the people. In this sense, the defeat of the AKP will increase the motivation of the social opposition. But it should not be forgotten that Erdoğan maintains its power with huge forces and CHP is not an alternative to this corrupt system of exploitation.


The Situation of the Socialist Left


Although the socialist left was in the mood for local elections long ago, the socialist left had no claim except for a few limited areas. The necessary unity, solidarity and struggle could not be displayed there either. On top of that, the vicious conflicts and the visible tricks were bad points for the general socialist left. Not only did TİP fall well below its vote expectations, but it also publicly exposed its flaws with major mistakes (i.e scandals such as nominating popular names who are not even leftists)  TKP, with all its sectarianism, presented itself in a very negative way and was disappointed in areas such as Defne and Kadıköy, where its expectations were high. Maçoğlu also exhausted himself by being engaged in a place that should not be considered at all, like Kadıköy, and a sectarian party like TKP, which is hostile to everyone.


What to Do?


The impoverishment of working people will accelerate in the coming period. On the other hand, the AKP government will be afraid of possible class reactions. The government will want to use the state's cudgel effectively, as protests and strikes will definitely sink the AKP ship, which was seriously damaged in the last elections. It is necessary to be ready for the restriction of democratic rights and the oppression of Kurds and other oppressed groups to continue. This being the case, it would be a big mistake to wait until the elections in 2028 and rely on the elections to remove the AKP. Moreover, it is known that the possible CHP government defends the same economic policies as Mehmet Şimşek. It is necessary to explain to people once again that CHP has no problem with the capitalist exploitation system.


The choice of the ruling class in the face of the economic and political crisis of the system is a “bourgeois normalization” through CHP. The interest of the working class and the youth who are in capitalist futurelessness is not the normalization of this system, but its destruction. In this sense, what is essential is the rise of the organization and the actual struggle of the working class and young people. On the other hand, it should be known that the comprehensive attacks on workers and democratic rights during the 22-year AKP rule were stopped or curbed by the actual struggle in the streets. For this reason, class-conscious workers and young people should concentrate on expanding the struggle against increasing poverty and the wild capitalism prevailing in the country, and reject the attitude of waiting for the elections and the CHP government. 


We reject the so-called electoral struggle. We must put the “united struggle front” on the agenda of the socialist left. Although the rising parliamentary tendencies in the socialist left create illusions, the only way for the socialist left to make a breakthrough is through actual struggles and gaining revolutionary positions among the working masses. This is what our struggle is for. If the socialist left cannot achieve this task, the class reactions of the urban poor will find bourgeois channels to flow.