All eyes have been focused on the June 7 elections, which has the potential to be one of the most important turning points in Turkey’s political history. Politicians, civil servants, investors and international players are all waiting with baited breath for how the next parliament will look like and subsequently what government will emerge.
True, there are various, often sui generis, dynamics at work in winning elections. But here are some additional points the parties might wish to consider:
1. People are tired and fed up with negative, noisy and divisive rhetoric. The speeches of political leaders have much lower ratings than television series. If you want to increase your chances of election, first develop a series of positive, realistic, constructive messages and then enhance your team of smart, witty, friendly, inclusive MP candidates, project leaders, public executives and spokespersons.
2. Political campaigning is an art and part and parcel of an effective communications strategy. It is not only about substance – often it has to do with images and perceptions you create. People are already riddled with dozens of confusing messages, visions and programs. Set your agenda, avoid hollow rhetoric that nobody buys today, and do not allow the masters of diversion and artificial issues to derail you. Better to pick up a single theme, develop messages around it and get them communicated by trusted, competent and likeable public faces.
3. Make good use of the digital world in attracting the young and dynamic middle class, promoting candidates, spreading your messages and fundraising. To get international recognition and prominence, consider greater engagement in key global and regional forums, and express views on the critical issues, put forth creative solutions and offer targeted interviews in the international media.
4. Have a quota for bright, seasoned people from major disciplines to parachute into certain cabinet positions without going through grassroots electioneering. Beyond them, focus on candidates seen as effective local voices that are admired and loved, inspire confidence and are known as high achievers. Go the extra mile to invite gifted candidates without waiting for them to come to you. Such people often expect to be discovered.
5. Showcase not only leaders but also at least half a dozen impressive, reassuring team/project leaders who will likely be the key members of a future cabinet. Designate a shadow cabinet consisting of your best available team members as your response to show a credible alternative without creating a power vacuum. Hard work does not mean sweating all the time and running around like a headless chicken – it should be result-oriented, sharply focused and in a team spirit.
Although an overwhelming majority of the population tends to have low trust and hope in politicians today, you should unceasingly keep projecting your strategic vision, execution skills and seek convincing answers to the following questions:
How will you run the increasingly fragile economy? What are the measures to deal with the mountain of public and private debts? How will you restore confidence in public governance, the judiciary and the parliament? Any quick measures to help economically the most disadvantaged segments of the society?
What is it that you offer in upgrading education, health and social security standards that differ from what is on offer today? In a generation, would it be possible to move us up to the top 15 to 20 places in the U.N. Human Development Index?
How do you build a new commonly shared modus vivendi in our extremely fragmented society particularly along, ethnic and religious lines, not to mention economically?
How will you transform the youth of this nation from a future “time bomb” in the country into a well-educated and equipped “human capital” by offering them a light at the end of the tunnel?
What will you add to the achievements thus far on transport, telecommunications, mass housing, energy and other infrastructure issues?
How will you secure massive funding ($12 billion is needed each year for energy projects alone) for these projects? Do you have a clear action plan to reduce capital outflow, foreign interest payments and profit transfers, which have totaled $225 billion since 2003?
What does sustainable development mean to you? How will you regenerate the urban areas where the majority of the population today lives and make sure that cities are equipped with intelligent technology, clean energy and ecological designs?
Have you seriously thought about improving rural development so that people do not flock to the overcrowded and polluted cities? How will you marry our ordinary, colorless cities with aesthetically rich, culture and art works/monuments?
How to put the “precious loneliness” in foreign policy on a new, realpolitik-based orbit, and become “a genuine global actor, regional power?” What are the ways in which you will address such issues as corruption, transparency, security, intelligence, technology development, value-adding exports, branding, creating top 10 Turkish global companies and international competitiveness?