What did the voters say to the opposition?
After every election, it is customary to comment on “What did the voters say?” It does not really matter whether the voters actually wanted to say that or whether they acted with much simpler motives.
When the voters cast their votes as individuals, they do not think, “Let me give a message so that the politicians of the country understand and act accordingly.”
Every voter has their own reasoning. But when those votes are cast in the same direction and evaluated with the voter behavior of past elections, there is a political message drawn from it. The consequences of whether or not this message has been perceived correctly are seen in the next elections.
As a matter of fact, the voter who cast his/her vote in the direction of a coalition on June 7, when this message was not taken, this time preferred single-party rule.
If the message of the voter is not perceived correctly this time, we will see its consequences once more in the next elections.
The most blatant message, apart from single-party rule, is the one for opposition parties.
The voter openly said, “You are not competent,” to Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) head Devlet Bahçeli and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.
Kılıçdaroğlu and the CHP
Kılıçdaroğlu has not won any election since he became the leader of the party. He was not been able to make the main opposition party a hope. This no doubt is a reflection of the fact that his party’s ideological stance does not have a strong social response.
However, as a party leader, it was his duty to understand what kind of an opposition party the Turkish society wanted and manage his party accordingly; he could not do it.
Without restructuring the CHP, I have to say that this issue cannot be solved. Most probably the CHP will not be able to do it for a long time. It is not easy to overcome the place ex-leader Deniz Baykal has locked the party.
The way out of this for the CHP is to restructure itself from the grassroots upward as a democratic party, as a social democrat party should.
It is a fact that this cannot happen in a short time but if this change and transformation process does not start at some point, then the CHP is likely to lose again in the 2019 and 2023 elections. A determined and strong leader is again needed for this. Turkey, after all, is an eastern society and in this society leadership charisma has always been rewarded.
Bahçeli and the MHP
The biggest loser of these elections was unarguably the MHP. The party was only five months ago the lock of the coalition and could have been a partner in the coalition; now, it is happy it crossed the election threshold.
The reason why this picture turned upside down in five months is the anti-politics of its leader, Bahçeli, who suggested no solution to any problem.
Even on the evening of the June 7 elections he set out saying, “The nation has given us the duty of the opposition,” and since that day nobody understood what he wanted to do.
It looks as if Bahçeli will not give up the MHP. The question is now whether the MHP will give up Bahçeli. Because of the advantages granted to party administrations in the Political Parties Law, unless Bahçeli agrees, it is hard for the MHP to undergo a transformation and change.
The MHP’s fundamental problem is the existence of a very strong AKP addressing the nationalist and conservative voter. Votes for both parties shifted easily to and fro in five months. The MHP has to come out with “new” stuff against its strong rival.
Demirtaş, Yüksekdağ and the HDP
The biggest problem after June 7 was whether or not the warlords of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) would accept the Kurdish problem-focused HDP’s victory. The strengthening of the HDP caused the PKK to question itself and it responded the way it knew best.
With the Suruç attack, it dared a plan that could never succeed. It sent thousands of its men and women to death, causing tens of martyr funerals every day.
With a raw dream such as the “declaration of democratic autonomy,” it turned cities in southeastern Turkey into hell.
The HDP was expected to adopt a strong stance against this. They did not. The party organization did not support Demirtaş’s proclamations.
It was inevitable for such a party to lose its “borrowed” votes and it was a miracle it crossed the election threshold. If they insist on the same policy it is not prophesizing to say they will not even receive this many votes in the next elections.
They have an opportunity now. If they cannot raise their voice against an organization that has lost most of its military power, then they will lose this opportunity also.