What will the Nov 1 polls change in Turkey?
On Nov. 1, Turkey will hold its fourth election in the last 20 months with hopes that it will be the last one and will help to reduce the political tension in the country by paving the way for the establishment of a stable government to immediately address Turkey’s pending issues. Public opinion surveys suggest that the new parliament will again be composed of four political parties with none of them having majority to form single-party government.
Some Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials, however, seem to be confident that the ruling party will this time garner sufficient votes to enjoy a one-party government, believing that the Turkish public opinion has realized the importance of political stability in the last three months and will give their votes to them. The increase in their votes is remarkable since June 7 polls and will reach around 45 percent on election day, they claim, explaining that this result will suffice for the AKP to take power.
The changes in the nomination lists to include more influential figures, particularly the constituencies the party lost by small margins, and the adoption of a more economy-oriented election manifesto are some of the moves believed to have a positive impact on the AKP’s performance on Nov. 1. The AKP has seemingly been attracted by the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) June 7 election promises, which envisaged special attention on increasing pensions and minimum wages for workers. Instead of criticizing the CHP for making unrealistic promises, the AKP has now begun to repeat them with minor changes.
More importantly, there is the observation that Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and other senior AKP officials are using a softer language against their political rivals in comparison with June 7’s pre-election campaign. They want to emphasize a more positive language, again in a way to copy the mood of CHP’s Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
One key question is whether President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will join the campaign as he did before the June polls. There are reports that Erdoğan will be not that active in the election trail this time but he can always change his mind.
On the CHP front, there is not much change. Kılıçdaroğlu made only minor changes on his list and preferred to keep his group. Apart from economy, foreign policy is also on Kılıçdaroğlu’s agenda, as he strongly lashes out at the government for its collapse on Syria policies. He emphasizes “peace” in Turkey and in the region and assures the people that the only party that can bring peace and stability is the CHP. Public opinion surveys show a slight increase in the votes of the social democrats but this won’t be enough for a splendid success.
Under huge pressure from the government, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) continues its election campaign actively but worsening security conditions in eastern and southeastern Anatolian regions makes their job more difficult. Although there is a small decline in the HDP’s 13 percent of votes from the June polls, the party will likely to enter into parliament. A further consolidation of HDP votes especially in these regions is highly possible and sufficient to repeat the party’s success in the polls on Nov. 1.
As for the HDP’s election bid, one key concern could be continued terror attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which would complicate the process in these parts of the country. Although not verified, a ceasefire would be crucial in providing poll safety in many parts of southeastern and eastern Anatolia.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and its leader Devlet Bahçeli suffered a lot from Tuğrul Türkeş’s move from the nationalist party to the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Bahçeli, as one of the politicians who is blamed for going to snap elections as he closed his doors to any government proposal, has not changed his position as polls loom and he continues to be focused only on the terror problem. Some decline in MHP votes is expected on Nov. 1 but the party has no 10 percent threshold problem.
As seen, the Nov. 1 polls will introduce nothing different than we have today, though the number of seats parties have would change in a minimal way. Turkey will still need a coalition government and therefore compromise, something that all with common sense seek for the stability, peace and comfort of this country. Although the composition of the parliament will not change, the fact that the AKP will suffer a second defeat in four months will have a psychological impact on the ruling party. That would perhaps help a coalition government prevail.