Opposition alliance seeking ‘magical formula’

Opposition alliance seeking ‘magical formula’

Despite still not knowing whether or not general and presidential elections will be held on time in 2019, Turkish politics has already entered an election atmosphere.Despite still not knowing whether or not general and presidential elections will be held on time in 2019, Turkish politics has already entered an election atmosphere. 

Let’s review the latest situation of Turkish politics under three headlines:

1. Alliances

The ruling party: The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have formed an alliance for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, calling it the “People’s Alliance.” 

The Grand Union Party (BBP) will also try to place some of its members in parliament through the AKP’s lists. But the Felicity Party (SP) is not expected to join the alliance. In the meantime, there is also a search for voluntary alliance in local elections.

The opposition: The most probable alliance is one between the İYİ (Good) Party and the Felicity Party. The alliance is expected to get some votes from the AKP-MHP alliance because of its nationalist and conservative stances. Though it is not clear whether the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) will join this alliance. However, it seems like it might join this duo instead of losing votes to the İYİ Party-Felicity Party alliance. The opposition’s alliance is also likely to go for the option of “supporting the strong candidate against the ‘people’s alliance.’” What is certain on the opposition front is that the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will be excluded from the alliance.

2. Presidential candidacy

The ruling party: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was declared as the candidate of the AKP-MHP alliance and was endorsed by the BBP.

The opposition: From the opposition side, İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener announced her candidacy. The HDP will probably also announce its candidate too. So, the entire opposition has to find a magical formula for them to act jointly on a presidential candidacy. The candidate, who will be likely to qualify for the second round against Erdoğan, must be able to receive votes from social democrats, conservative-nationalist voters and Kurdish voters. However, if each party in the opposition alliance announces its own candidate, the second round will most likely see a candidate from the CHP. For this reason, the candidate of the CHP must win the hearts and minds of both the opposition’s alliance and the HDP voters. But so far there has not been any names announced in accordance with this formula.

Former President Abdullah Gül is always mentioned when this topic is being discussed. If he is proposed as the candidate of the Felicity Party (SP), it is seen likely that he will qualify for the second round. However, due to Gül’s unclear attitude toward this, the opposition cannot set up a strategy based on this possibility either.

3. Election strategy

The ruling party: At the heart of the agenda of the ruling party’s alliance is expected to be the “fight against terrorism,” “national security” and “continuity of the state,” unless different issues will make their way to the agenda until election day. The fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and operations in Syria, Iraq, Manbij, Sinjar, and Afrin will probably be agenda topics discussed mostly. Despite their risks to the economy, fiscal policies can continue, which could positively affect voters’ behaviors. Signals of smoother relations with the European Union will be a hot topic in the foreign policy of the election strategy of the alliance.

The opposition: The CHP’s motto “Rights, Law and Justice” has already gained a meaning in the society. The Felicity Party and İYİ Party also seem to be on the same page as the CHP in their views regarding the rule of law, democracy and freedom of expression. On the other hand, recent remarks made by Felicity Party leader Temel Karamollaoğlu on the economic situation in the country have also created a considerable impression, a view shared by the CHP and İYİ Party, too. 

Problems in the economy seem to have turned into a weapon of the opposition for the elections. Another issue the three parties share views in is the return to the parliamentary system. Despite not being a part of any alliance, the HDP is also expected to support a candidate who is in favor of a parliamentary system and freedoms, if the elections go to a second round.

As discussed above, the opposition has more advantages regarding the alliance and the election strategy. But when it comes to presidential candidacy, the ruling party and its alliance have more advantages. 

Let’s see if the opposition can find a magical formula to close this gap.

deniz zeyrek, hdn, Opinion