Three streaks in the presidential campaign
What will the parties and candidates say during the presidential election campaign? On what will the campaigns be based? Most probably, the candidates and parties will not conduct a campaign explaining how well they will be using the powers of the president as described in Article 104 of the Constitution.
My first guess is that campaigns will be conducted over main political identities. In other words, as I have named it, on one side the “Islamist” identity, on the other side the “Turkish [Türkçü]” identity.
Because the emphasizing of the identities is done by denigrating the other identity here in our country, it should be expected that the portion covering identities in the campaigns will be unprecedentedly severe.
My second guess for campaign themes is that the candidate for presidency and his party will depict a vision for the future.
Here, regardless of whether or not Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will run for office, the candidate the Justice and Development Party (Ak Party) will support will most probably explain in town squares the vision accommodating the wide range and macro-targets concerning 2023.
While he is explaining that, he will indeed be comfortable because he will also be representing the government, moreover, the Ak Party candidate will have concrete projects (airports, roads, dams, etc.) to promise.
Well, what will the opposition, particularly the Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate, explain as a vision? One possibility is that he will oppose the vision explained by the Ak Party candidate; in another option, he will say, Elect me now, then make my party the government and when we become the government, we will do this and that.”
This part of the campaign, that is the part where the vision for the future is explained, will be the most problematic part of the campaign for the opposition, because it will be very difficult for the opposition to conduct a positive campaign.
And the third part will be the campaign regarding the personalities of the candidates.
Let’s say there is Prime Minister Erdoğan on one side and on the other side, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. One will call the other “general manager,” the other will address him as the “prime thief.”
I’m sure you can visualize how tough the campaign will be.
The PM needs an enemy
What I have written up to now is relatively easy to guess. However, there is the “election engineering” side of the business, an aspect both the Ak Party and the CHP have to exert serious efforts on.
In the 2010 referendum, it was Prime Minister Erdoğan who led the “yes” campaign. He traveled from one town square to the other, mobilized his voters and received 21.8 million votes. On the other hand the “no” votes were 15.8 million. In other words, there was a difference of 6 million.
In the last elections on March 30, when you look at the total votes of the “Islamist” identity parties of Ak Party and Felicity Party (SP); and the total votes of the “Turkish” identity parties of the CHP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), you see that the CHP and MHP have obtained more than 3 million more votes compared to the 2010 referendum.
However, there is an important difference here: The turnout in the referendum was 71 percent; it was more than 90 percent in the local elections.
If we assume that a significant portion of those who did not vote in the referendum had the “no” preference, then it is easy to see that the side that needs to mobilize its voters the most is the CHP-MHP front. The CHP and MHP should create “enthusiasm,” as they did in these local elections so that they will take the potential voter to the ballot box.
The Ak Party cannot disregard the possibility of the CHP and MHP strongly motivating its voters to the polls; the best thing they could do at this point would be to exert intense efforts to direct their own voters to the box.
When we look at past elections, we see the biggest weapon Prime Minister Erdoğan and the giant propaganda machine of the Ak Party used while motivating the voter to go to the polls has been creating an enemy or calling the voter to a joint struggle against an existing enemy.
The enemy in the local elections “The community that attempted to stage a coup” is still valid today, but it has petered out a bit.
Let’s see who or what the prime minister will find this time? Maybe he will go back in history to the old enemy, maybe all the way to İsmet Pasha?
We will see this all together…