What will the local elections in Istanbul show?
First of all, let’s remember that there is no necessity to win more than 50 percent of the votes in local elections due to take place in March 2019. The winner will be the candidate who simply gets more votes than the others.
The alliance between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will be tested in the local elections. The overall number of votes taken by the ruling allied and opposition parties will be closely scrutinized and the results will shape expectations about the presidential election due to take in November 2019.
A number of survey results for local elections have already started emerging, but these results are highly speculative as no candidates have even been nominated and no campaigns have yet started.
What I find interesting about the upcoming local election in Istanbul is the fact that any increase or decrease of 10 percent directly affects the national vote. What’s more, results differ widely in Istanbul according to election type. Voting tendencies vary in presidential elections, parliamentary elections, local elections, and referendums. As a result, to get a sense of the mood it is best to compare the results of local elections to previous local elections.
PM Yıldırım a strong candidate for Istanbul
Polling results regarding local elections in Istanbul also show us that every election has unique dynamics. The results for every presumptive Istanbul mayor candidates – apart from Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım – are somewhat close to each other. But of course it is far from clear whether Yıldırım will be nominated as the AK Party’s Istanbul candidate.
What is certain for now is that the ruling AK Party and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) will be competing for the Istanbul mayorship. Votes taken by the MHP and the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will also affect the results. The center-right İYİ (Good) Party, a new actor on Turkey’s political scene, and the conservative Felicity Party (SP) will similarly be trying their best to put in a good performance.
Certainly, local elections in Istanbul will be a good indicator of the state of the AK Party-MHP alliance. More accurate observations will follow once the candidates are nominated and the election campaign pledges emerge. Apparently it is going to be a challenging battle for every political party. They all need to monitor the tendencies of voters very carefully before nominating their candidates.
CHP applies to the Constitutional Court
The CHP has been preparing to apply to the Constitutional Court against the “alliance law” recently passed in parliament with the votes of AKP and MHP deputies.
“We will not demand that the provisions about setting up alliances are completely revoked,” CHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Engin Altay told me, adding that the party is considering asking for the opinions of other opposition parties before applying to the Constitutional Court.
They will first request a stay of execution of the law and will then contest that it violates the 10th article of the constitution about the principle of equality.
“According to the new law, a party that gets 9 percent of the vote will not be able to get seats in parliament because of the 10 percent threshold, but another party that gets 3 percent of the vote will be able to enter parliament by joining an ‘alliance.’ That violates the principle of equality in the constitution,” Altay said.
In addition, poll safety is set to be the second part of the CHP’s application to the Constitutional Court.