Change looms for failing opposition
A critical decision looms for the Turkish opposition parties, including MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli (pictured).This has not been a fair race. Just look at the numbers for campaign financing, which only gave way for individual donations with an upper limit of around 9,000 Turkish Liras.
The AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gathered 55 million liras, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the joint candidate for the opposition CHP and MHP, received 8.5 million liras while the pro-Kurdish candidate from the HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş, got 1.2 million liras.
Erdoğan used every state means during his campaign. The whole press was behind him; he had the luxury of being devoid of serious scrutiny and criticism. But can we confidently say that all this can explain the big gap between Erdoğan and his closest contender supported by Turkey’s second and third biggest parties? I don’t think so.
I was among those who thought coming up with a joint candidate was not such a bad idea. After all, we have witnessed in 1980 how the inability of the political parties on the left and the right of the political spectrum to elect a president led the country into a crisis and a military coup on Sept. 12. It was good to see, for a change, two parties from different wings coming up with a joint candidate. It seems it was not the right strategy. Thank God no one asked my opinion at that time and I don’t have to pay a cost. Could it be the same with the CHP and MHP leaders? Both parties were deserted by their constituencies and their local branches. And by the way, İhsanoğlu’s personal efforts were important, otherwise the rate would have been lower. But this is a clear loss of confidence for the CHP and MHP leadership.
So change is inevitable as far as the CHP and MHP are concerned. But the critical issue is the timing. General elections scheduled for 2015 are crucial as far as Erdoğan’s presidency is concerned. He needs to have the AKP win the elections if he wants to rule the country from the presidential palace. Without Erdoğan at its helm, the AKP might not do as well as in past elections.
But; if the two opposition parties were to decide to change their leadership soon, the AKP could call early elections and they would be caught unprepared. But the AKP might not dare call early elections.
So it could be a tough call for the CHP and MHP. It has to be made, sooner rather than later. The nightmare scenario is not to have Erdoğan as president, since it is no longer a scenario but the reality; the real nightmare scenario is to have the same leadership at the CHP and the MHP in 2015 and beyond.