How will the Felicity Party perform in the elections?
One of the contesting parties in the June 24 elections under scrutiny is the Felicity Party (SP), which still holds the flag of its late founder and the leader of the National View movement of political Islam Prof. Necmettin Erbakan.
Before commenting on the probable performance of the SP in the upcoming elections, let’s have a look at its previous vote rates. The SP got 2.49 percent of the votes in 2002, which means that 781,000 people voted for it. In the following four parliamentary elections the SP performed around and below the threshold of 2 percent. In the parliamentary election on June 7, 2015, the SP was only able to get 2.07 of the votes by forming an alliance with the Great Union Party (BBP).
In the last election on Nov. 1, 2015, this time the SP, who joined the race on its own, was among the parties that received a severe blow. The numbers clearly show a worrisome environment caused by the rising terrorism seriously affected the SP voters and decreased the votes of party. The SP only got 319,000 votes on Nov. 1, 2015 and its rate dropped below 1 percent.
It is no secret that at least some voters of the SP tended to vote for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the presidential election in 2014, even though the party announced that it did not support any of the nominees.
This picture indicates that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been capable of getting votes from the grassroots of the SP and vice versa. Since both parties are descended from the National View movement, the transitivity among their conservative voter bases is quite high. Thus, the AKP voters tend to knock on the door of the SP first when they steer away from the AKP.
We have witnessed this tendency in the March 30, 2014 local elections when the SP successfully increased its vote rate to 2.77 with 1.24 million votes in the 81 provincial councils. Likewise, in the elections on March 29, 2009, in which the AKP lost ground, the total number of the SP’s votes in the provincial councils rose to 2.1 million marking its vote rate as 5.2 percent.
There are several new factors that will affect the results of the upcoming elections on June 24, especially in the parliamentary elections. The primary factor that did not exist in the previous elections is the fact that the SP will contest without the pressure of the 10 percent election threshold for the first time owing to the Nation Alliance it formed with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the İYİ (Good) Party. Those who shied away from voting for the SP with the concern that it would not be able to get over the threshold can overcome that feeling now.
Another factor is the wriggle Temel Karamollaoğlu created with his leadership style and the messages since becoming chair of the SP a year and a half ago. Karamollaoğlu strongly opposed the presidential system of government during the April 16, 2017 referendum campaign and created an impact on the results, which narrowly opened the way for the new system, by giving the message that conservative people can say “no” to the proposal.
The third new factor is that the SP has pledged a more advanced program in the Kurdish question than the AKP has done so far. In addition to that, the SP has brought names like MP Altan Tan and former MP Haşim Haşimi, who are prominent figures in Kurdish politics to its stage. By this way, the SP is making an effort to provide an alternative to the conservative Kurdish voters who could be troubled with the AKP’s slide to the political line prioritizing security and to a nationalistic discourse by forming an alliance with the MHP.
Of course there are other factors, such as the economic problems, that would affect the behaviors of the voters. Thus, the leading cadre of the SP is planning to attract the voters that could be alienated from the AKP.
Is it possible that a mobilization in favor of the SP can be observed in the ballots regarding all these factors?
Considering the modest vote rates of the SP, it may be unrealistic to expect quantitatively big electoral realignments. However, even the electoral realignments in small numbers will be important because for the first time, alliances rather than parties will compete in the elections and the votes will be consolidated into the two sides that win with a narrow margin.