Fund raising report card of presidential candidates

Fund raising report card of presidential candidates

What kind of a course did the donations take in the financing of the campaigns conducted by presidential candidates?

I took the figures related to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s campaign the other day from Deputy Chair of Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Hüseyin Çelik. According to the data provided by Çelik, a total of 1,614,368 people donated at total of 59,067,405 Turkish Liras to Erdoğan’s election campaign.

I took the figures related to the campaign of the joint candidate of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Professor Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, from his spokesperson, Mete Belovacıklı. According to him, 21,257 people donated a total of 8,500,000 liras to İhsanoğlu’s campaign.

I took the data related to the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) candidate, Selahattin Demirtaş, from his website, Some 7,119 people contributed financially to Demirtaş’s campaign, with donations amounting to 1,095,000 liras.

These figures prove that, in the category of donations, Erdoğan has a major superiority over his rivals. In simpler terms, donations for İhsanoğlu only amount to 14 percent of donations to Erdoğan; donations to Demirtaş only amount to 1.7 percent of donations to Erdoğan.

No doubt, being in the government has created a significant advantage in the level of donations to Erdoğan. For example, it could be assumed that meaningful contributions came from business circles seeking to maintain their good relations with the government. However, this factor alone cannot explain the high level of the donations for Erdoğan. We have to accept that the AK Party has organized a major donation campaign based on the sympathy of support for the same party.

During one rally, Erdoğan called on his supporters as follows: “I hope God does not embarrass us. Well, have you gone to the banks and transferred your support? It could be 1 lira, 5 liras or 10 liras. It is just to show that you are participating. The money or the amount is not important. But participation is very important. My brothers and sisters, do not sit back and relax…”

Did you observe a similar mobilization on the CHP front?

Let us consider the number of members of parties. Daily Hürriyet’s reporter on the CHP, Okan Müderrisoğlu, asked the party headquarters about the number of CHP members. Official figures state that the party has 1,061,981 members. In contrast, the AK Party, according to Çelik, has 9,258,419 members.

If each member of the CHP had donated 10 liras to their party’s official candidate İhsanoğlu, 10,610,000 liras would have been raised. That alone would have been more than the 8.5 million liras actually collected. I have not even included possible contributions from the MHP in this calculation.

Some 1.6 million people joined the AK Party campaign, while only 21,257 people donated to İhsanoğlu’s campaign, including both the CHP and the MHP. When the ratio of donators to number of members is calculated, it is barely 2 percent for the CHP, while the same figure is 8 percent for the AK Party.

This being the case, the stance adopted by CHP members in support for their official candidate through donations looks extremely weak. This picture is sad.

We can suggest that the lack of support stemmed from the lack of acceptance of İhsanoğlu by a significant portion of the CHP grassroots. But the issue should be assessed beyond this. At the root of the issue lies the fact that a significant portion of the CHP grassroots are in a general state of indifference in the face of questions about what kind of vision Erdoğan has for Turkey, what kind of a regime Erdoğan plans to introduce Turkey once he is the president, which direction he wants to evolve society in, and where he wants to take Turkey.

As long as this indifference exists, let alone the CHP surpassing the AK Party, simply balancing it or developing a counterbalance against it is not even in question.