Turkey’s Good Party and the 2019 elections
Meral Akşener’s long-awaited political party was born on Oct. 25 with the name “Good Party” (İyi Parti). The party held its first meeting at a cultural center in Ankara, after a number of major hotels and conference centers refused to rent out their halls. This fact alone indicates that the road ahead for the Good Party will not be easy.
Although Akşener has long been signaling that her party will be placed in the center-right, both her team and party program suggest that it harbors a strong nationalist core, which could be seen as a move to compete with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
However, Akşener, as a brave and strong woman vowing to struggle in a world dominated by men, can perfectly attract the votes of women from all different political perspectives. In this regard, some female voters of the main opposition Republican People Party (CHP) could also shift votes to the Good Party.
But if Akşener wants to come to power and be elected president in 2019, she obviously needs to reach to the roots of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) too. She can only do that if the Good Party storms through the masses’ votes and becomes a real contender against the all-powerful AKP.
The party program and messages she gave on Oct. 25 tell us that the Good Party and AKP share similar views on key domestic issues, such as the fight against the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) and the Kurdish issue. She has repeated many times that democracy is her pillar. But she has left many real democrats unconvinced on whether she would actually pursue a liberal understanding of democracy if she came to power.
Another key issue in the Good Party program is a promise to return to the parliamentary system. This is also one of the CHP’s promises.
Unlike Akşener, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has not nominated himself to run in the 2019 presidential race. Instead, he has stressed that his social democratic party will choose its own candidate, as he aims to avoid repeating the mistake his party made in 2014.
For Kılıçdaroğlu, the real presidential race takes place in the second round, when the two most popular candidates go head-to-head. He has said in a televised interview that the CHP will think about a candidate that can attract the votes of political parties whose candidates failed to reach the second round.
Given that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will probably win the first round - he wants to be elected in the first round with 50 percent plus one vote but the current state of the AKP does not guarantee that outcome - the real fight will take place between Kılıçdaroğlu, or whoever the CHP nominates, and Akşener to come second.
It is still too early to make forecasts for 2019, but there is certainly scope for a potential alliance in the presidential polls.