June 24 analysis: İYİ Party’s first step should not be underestimated
One of the most critical unknowns of this election was the result the İYİ (Good) Party would receive in the elections. The votes it would’ve gotten especially from the right-wing base would have a determining effect on the election results of both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
İYİ Party, in the first ever parliamentary election it raced in, received 10 percent of the total votes, whereas İYİ Party chair Meral Akşener’s votes remained below that in the presidential election, with 7.3 percent of the votes.
In light of İYİ Party’s assertive targets, the party’s results for both parliamentary and presidential elections can be interpreted by some as a “failure.” But, when evaluating the party’s performance, we should develop a “fair” point of view and firstly consider the following factors:
The first is that because this party has for the first time ever joined an election, there is no reference data with which we can compare its results. Therefore, to join the equation with 10 percent of the votes is still meaningful.
The second factor is that we should not forget the party was founded only last October. When the party was still in an endeavor to organize itself and form cadres, it got caught in a snap election. It was the political organization that was the least prepared for the election. It had no election experience up until then as an organization.
The third factor is that compared to other parties, it was the most disadvantaged party in terms of financial opportunities. Firstly, it did not get financial support from the Treasury like the big parties did. It joined the election paddling its own canoe.
The third factor is that, as possibly everyone would agree, in terms of carrying its message to the public the party was confined compared to its competitors.
We need to admit that İYİ Party competed in an environment dominated by serious impossibilities and boundaries.
In addition to these limitations, İYİ Party had another important political dilemma. Its participation in the Nation Alliance enabled it to overcome the threshold barrier and entered parliament. But the positive statements and stance of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), also in the alliance, on the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) prevented İYİ Party from luring the nationalist-conservative voter base at a level that the party desired. And a group of voters reactive to the AKP turned towards to the MHP again at the last stage.
Let’s not forget an important point: Meral Akşner had closed the door to the Abdullah Gül option, which the CHP was in fact leaning towards to present as a presidential candidate, and prevented the competition from going into another direction. This should definitely be taken into consideration when evaluating the İYİ Party.
In the end, a total of 4,955,000 voters, i.e. about 5 million people, voted for İYİ Party on June 24. This is not a bad result for a party which has not even completed its first year.
The striking side to İYİ Party’s performance is that it accomplished to get votes from the AKP base, MHP base, and—even though with a lower percentage — the CHP base. The voters coming from the AKP and MHP include the center-right voters who have voted for True Path Party (DYP) and Motherland Party (ANAP) in the past. From this aspect, İYİ Party is a multi-center of attraction that can receive votes from all of the layers of the right electorate base and the left base.
İYİ Party received the highest percentage of votes from the Aegean and Mediterranean regions, which are in fact the former voting castles of the center-right. In these regions, the party’s votes mostly ranged from 12 to 20 percent. The party got the highest voting rate from the Mediterranean province of Burdur, with 20.3 percent. Burdur is followed by Isparta, the hometown of former Turkish President Süleyman Demirel (DYP’s founder), and Antalya.
Antalya is İYİ Party’s most important success in the election, as the party will represent this province with three lawmakers in the new parliament. It should be accepted that this was partially the effect of former Antalya Mayor Hasan Subaşı’s being on the İYİ Party lawmaker nominees list. Subaşı formerly was a lawmaker of the DYP.
So, the effect of the İYİ Party candidates representing the center-right and coming from such background on the party results should not be at all overlooked.
This situation puts a series of critical questions for the future of İYİ Party. The question of whether İYİ Party will be able to form an effective synthesis between its MHP roots and traditional center-right line will determine whether the İYİ Party will be a lasting or circumstantial party.