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Why Turkey’s elections may not matter

Today’s election may have less of an effect in Turkey than many think, as electoral upsets have been relatively rare and their consequences limited.
A woman casts her ballot inside a polling station during municipal elections in Istanbul March 30, 2014. REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY  - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)   - RTR3J5TY
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Today, March 30, 52 million Turks cast their votes in local elections. Although the vote won’t affect the parliamentary majority of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the elections are perceived to be a popularity contest for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is mired in a major corruption scandal. Social media users have reported that they have never seen such long lines at polling stations. It is expected that these elections will witness the highest participation rates in any election in Turkish history. It seems like Turkey has an opportunity for change.

Some observers, including Al-Monitor columnist Mustafa Akyol, argue that Turkey’s local elections matter because they will act as a predictor for this summer’s presidential election in which Prime Minister Erdogan is expected to run. Today’s vote, observers say, will also help to predict the parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2015 (but which may be held at the same time as the presidential election).

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