Turkey’s democracy has had many pitfalls since the early days of the modern republic. The ruling elite, initially from the military and recently from the conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP), have tweaked the rules of the game to exclude others and preserve their stay in power. Since 2002, Turkey’s powerful AKP politicians benefited from the rule that required political parties to win at least 10% of the votes to send representative to the parliament. Kurdish politicians, especially, were marginalized forcing them to compete for elections only as independents, increasing the chances of the more powerful parties, in this case the AKP, to artificially inflate their share of seats. If the 10% rule were not in place, and more political parties were represented this time around, AKP would have an easier time finding a coalition partner that had won just 17 seats--not 80.
For the first time, the pro-Kurdish party known as Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) has surpassed the 10% threshold and will be sending about 81 highly disciplined members to the parliament. This victory is not only good for the Kurdish people, it is also good for Turkish democracy. It deprived the increasingly authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from a chance to amend the constitution and give himself more powers. It solidified political pluralism. And it added a voice to minority voices in a political landscape dominated by a single party for nearly two decades.