It has not been a fair election, but…
No, it was not a fair presidential election from many perspectives…
First of all, one of the candidates, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, did not hesitate to make use of, in the widest sense, all state resources provided to him for his position as prime minister. For instance, just one of the prime minister’s privileges was to ride the plane and helicopter that belonged to the state, paid for with Turkish taxpayer’s money, during the campaign.
Likewise, there was a serious discrimination in favor of the prime minister in access to TV channels for candidates to convey their messages to society.
Unfair examples such as these could make up a long list. As a result, the joint candidate of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Professor Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, and the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) candidate, Selahattin Demirtaş, started the race one or two steps back.
This was never an equal-competition race. There were serious violations in terms of rules and ethical criteria. However, there was no referee on the field to blow his whistle for these violations. It was the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) that pointed out the violations.
It cannot be denied that these negative conditions shaped the election result to a certain extent.
Nevertheless, the problems here should not keep us from seeing the inadequacies in the election performances of the two opposition parties, the CHP and the MHP.
When we look at the numerical data, we see that the total of votes cast for the CHP and the MHP added up to 19,300,000 in the March 30 local elections. But those two parties, which were able to obtain this amount of votes just four months ago, were only able to receive 15,400,000 votes (excluding out-of-Turkey votes) for their joint presidential candidate. There is a decrease of nearly 4 million votes.
The turnout for the presidential elections was 74.13 percent, the lowest turnout since the Sept. 12 era in Turkey. Despite the low turnout, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) was able to carry over its voters from last March to the ballot box, even adding to them, at 20,670,000 votes (excluding out-of-Turkey votes). In this sense, Erdoğan was able to obtain the votes he wanted without being too affected by the low turnout. The low turnout has been translated as a loss of votes at varying rates in the CHP and the MHP.
The AK Party was able to compensate the losses it experienced in its grassroots with vote shifts from the MHP. The CHP, meanwhile, lost some votes to the HDP, while also facing the protests, indifference or lethargy of some of its voters.
Both parties need to seriously question the issues stemming directly from their own performances.
Whether or not a joint candidate was a correct strategy is a separate topic. However, we have to accept that Professor İhsanoğlu’s campaign stumbled at every stage. Probably the biggest issue erupted at the very beginning; when the joint candidate was not presented to society with a strong message or an exciting statement.
Neither the CHP nor the MHP were very convincing about mobilizing all of their means and manpower for their candidate to win.
Do you remember an event - for example a spectacular rally - from İhsanoğlu’s campaign that left its mark in our memories?
No doubt there were teams in both parties who worked genuinely for İhsanoğlu’s success, but these efforts fell short of reaching a dynamic, energy-generating threshold that thrilled society. İhsanoğlu’s efforts, along with his enormous good-will and politeness, were not enough to cover up these inadequacies and shortcomings.
Perfect organizational skills and management capacities are essential to run an effective election campaign. We cannot say such management skills were demonstrated on the CHP-MHP front in the presidential elections.
An essential requirement to be able to overcome the AK Party appears at this point. If the target is to beat the AK Party, then it is a minimum obligation for its rivals to work more and in a more disciplined manner. If AK Party members work 10 hours, its opposition must work 11 hours.
It is unquestionable that at this point they both seriously need a shake, especially the main opposition party…