Referendum strategies of parties
Since the day constitutional changes were processed in parliament, sleeves have been rolled up for the referendum. The date April 16 has been frequently suggested since late Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu’s helicopter crashed before the March 30 local elections; thus enforcing seasonal weather conditions to be taken into consideration when deciding on a day for the referendum.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will conduct the referendum campaign through two channels. The weight will be on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım will also hold town and city rallies.
The campaign will be based on the “head of the republic” system. So why is any association to the (executive) presidential system being avoided?
Adil Gür, the head of the A&G research company, said they have conducted five different surveys since January 2016. The word “presidential” generates antipathy among Turkish people. They have asked four questions whether the participants would chose a U.S.-type presidential system, French-like semi-presidential system, Turkish-type presidential system or a Turkish-type head of the republic system.
The least support was for the French semi-presidential system while the highest one was for the Turkish-type “president of the republic” system. Since the Turkish people have been ruled by the president of the republic system, that phrase sounds more sympathetic to Turkish ears. The U.S.-type presidential system comes second and the Turkish-type executive presidential system comes after that.
I asked Gür what the support for the president of the republic system meant; he told me that this month it increased to 53.2 percent. Well, then, where does the 60 percent come from? Gür said it had two legs. One is that the support for Erdoğan is over 60 percent. The votes for the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are over 60 percent. “If they conduct a good campaign, the result can be 60 percent,” he said.
The AKP will convene a strategic group, work on election strategy and determine a campaign slogan. They will go official around mid-February. Because of seasonal conditions, TV shows and indoor meetings will be prioritized.
The campaign will be simple and comprehensive. The Kurdish votes will be managed under a separate chapter. A strategy to win the Kurds will be formulated. In March and April, across-the-border operations will intensify so that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will not be allowed to put pressure on voters.
More than the opposition’s campaign, the AKP is more concerned about the economy and terror.
The prioritized matter will be the economy. A package may be introduced to ease markets. The state may help banks affected by the hike in exchange rates. The government targets a sigh of relief for the economy and to ease the people.
The MHP is expected to conduct a campaign centered on the survival and the continuity of the state. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) will focus on regime change and the one-man regime.
There are no clues as to what the Kurdish-issue focused Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) will campaign yet.
The AKP and the MHP will probably use the joint cooperation of the CHP and the HDP.
President Erdoğan is expected to build his campaign on July 15 and the revival mood. Erdoğan will explain that our country that defeated the coup threat on July 15 is under the attack of terror organizations led by a superior mind. He will ask the people who resisted against tanks on the night of July 15 this time to write the saga of democracy at the ballot boxes.