An exciting period ahead
Was it surprising to see all of a sudden surge of the name of Melih Gökçek, the former Ankara mayor forced to resign by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) months before the June presidential and parliamentary elections? As elections draw closer and as long as parties do not complete their candidate lists, it is highly probable that such suprises will become routine.
It was perhaps a rather awkward thing to say a few months ago that the AKP, for example, would consider the pre-June prime minister, current parliamentary speaker as a mayoral candidate for Istanbul. Similarly, was it normal to expect Binali Yıldırım asking to stay on as parliamentary speaker and passing on the prospect of Istanbul mayoral seat to AKP’s deputy chair Numan Kurtulmuş. Will he accept? Well, it might be not that easy to reject if offered the seat of Istanbul mayor, not only the largest city of Turkey but perhaps the undeclared commercial and business capital of this region.
In İzmir, likewise, heat is on the rise with all parties searching for a candidate strong enough to emerge as the victor in the city, considered by many as the capital of secularist Turkey. After decades of clear local elections victories of the social democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP) now the AKP started to plan a takeover with a strong candidate. Cn that be possible? Frustrated with the castrated political behavior of the CHP headquarters the social democratic electorate of Izmir, as well as elsewhere in the country, have started to think of boycotting the elections. While other parties might not have such a behavioral pattern in their history, in the1999 elections CHP voters punished their party by staying at home and burying the party in the electoral box. For the first and last time in its history the CHP was left outside of parliament. Can that happen in the local elections?
Branding disgruntled CHP electorate as “traitor” or commenting “They better vote for the AKP” might not help the CHP leadership to overcome the problem. Probably it is high time to come up with some clear and convincing strategies on national as well as global issues and convince the supporters of the party that “be it small, be it mine” understanding has come to an end and the CHP leadership seriously wanted to come to power.
The CHP has been rather slow in picking some good and strong names for the three big cities despite the fact that if it wins in those cities it might cripple the absolute power of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP.
The decision of the AKP and the MHP not to be together in the local elections – was not permissible under the present electoral law anyhow – while maintaining their so-called “People’s Alliance” indeed offered the CHP and the other opposition parties a golden opportunity to win at many cities where the mayoral contest have been very close. A CHP coaperation with the Good Party (İyi) in Ankara, Mersin, Antalya and many other important cities might bring about much needed victories against the AKP. Will they be able to achieve such a cooperation? Or, will the AKP remain as adamant as it has been towards the demands of the MHP in the selection of candidates?
Individual cunning undertakings by some diehard politicians, on the other hand, might provide a very lively and exciting election period. For example, cunning Gökçek must have calculated well before letting her name float around as a potential Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) candidate. He might have attracted some angry remarks from the AKP, MHP would not be able to publicly rule out candidacy of a personality who indeed was once a prominent member of the nationalist party. Thus, at the end of the day there was a high probability that he might emerge as a joint candidate of the two parties.
It will be a very exciting period.