Türkiye’s political landscape one month before elections
With one month remaining until the May 14th elections, excitement is at its peak in Türkiye. Following the presidential candidates, the party candidate lists for Parliament were also announced earlier this week, according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting Daily Sabah.
The People’s Alliance, which will compete under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, comprises four parties: the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which received 43% of the votes in the 2018 elections, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) with around 11% of the votes, and two other parties with a total of around 2% of the votes.
The People’s Alliance, led by Erdoğan, who won the previous elections with a 22-point lead and 52% of the votes against his closest rival, has a homogenous ideological structure. There have been no controversies regarding the candidates.
On the other hand, the Nation Alliance is led by the main opposition. Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is running in the presidential elections for an alliance with six parties. The two biggest parties in the bloc, the CHP received 23% of the votes in 2018, and the Good Party (IP) earned 10%. The total votes of the other four parties supporting Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy in the alliance are also around 2%.
Unlike the People’s Alliance, the Nation’s Alliance, also known as the “table for six,” comprises parties from different ends of the political spectrum.
The CHP describes itself as “a secular, leftist and radically secularist party.” The IP, on the other hand, is a “nationalist” party formed by those who accused the MHP of being passive, promising “final solutions” like the expulsion of “foreigners” from the country. The smaller parties at the “table” are conservative. In fact, the leader of one of these parties was accused of being a “Shariah supporter” by CHP members just a few years ago.
The joint list of candidates from these parties, with starkly opposing rhetoric even on basic policies, naturally created a crisis. It remains to be seen if the secular voters, who used to label these candidates as “radical religionists,” will vote for them under the slogan “Erdoğan must go.”
However, the Nation Alliance faces a larger handicap. That is their association with the pro-PKK Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of 50,000 people in the country. In the previous elections, the HDP, which received 12% of the votes, did not nominate a presidential candidate this time. Instead, they are supporting Kılıçdaroğlu, who is Erdoğan’s main rival.
Antipathy to HDP
There is antipathy in every segment of society, from left to right, of the HDP, which proudly defends, instead of denying, its ties to the terrorist organization.
Beyond that, the promise of the Nation Alliance, currently regarded as the “table for six plus one,” to govern the country with a commission of about 10 people is also confusing even the opposition voters. The fear of global and regional conflicts, wars, threats and worsening economic conditions is directing people toward the People’s Alliance, which appears to be cohesive and determined.
The Feb. 6 disaster that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and left millions homeless in the middle of winter, contrary to the opposition’s expectations, has actually increased confidence in Erdoğan. With just two months passing since the earthquake, Erdoğan has made significant progress in the construction of permanent housing, earning him points.
While Erdoğan continues his election campaign with a series of grand projects and investments, the opposition has not been able to organize effectively. They are barely getting by with futile meetings and are unable to inspire hope.
The fact that Homeland Party (MP) Chairperson Muharrem Ince, who ran as the CHP candidate against Erdoğan in the 2018 elections and was heavily defeated, is also running in the presidential race is a disadvantage for the opposition. Ince, who is rumored to have reached around 5% in the polls, is accused of splitting the votes of the Nation Alliance.
The opposition alliance is trying to create an atmosphere with inflated polls commissioned by their own parties, as they did in the previous elections, but the situation is currently uncertain.
However, as the late President Süleyman Demirel once famously said, “24 hours is a long time in politics.” This statement is particularly true in the region we live in.