Four-way salvation alliance
Would it be possible to consider for one second that the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) might engage in an election alliance with the Islamist Felicity Party (SP)? The two managed to come together in a coalition government back in the 1970s and indeed co-signed the order sending Turkish troops to Cyprus in 1974. Yet still, the two appearing on the same ballot box under the umbrella of an alliance in the election is very much like a man biting a dog. This is absolutely newsworthy.
Not only have the two come under one banner, but the Democrat Party (DP) and the Good (İYİ) Party have become electoral partners with the CHP. The DP split from the CHP in the 1940s and helped Turkey to move to a multi-party democracy in 1950. The İYİ Party seceded from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which is in an electoral alliance with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the now so-called “Cumhur” or “People’s” Alliance.
If one is called the People’s Alliance, what might the other be called? I suggest it be the “Salvation Alliance.” After all, was the “National Salvation Party” (MSP) not the legendary and original name of Necmettin Erbakan’s party?
Public opinion polls are not appearing in newspaper pages or on TV screens that often nowadays. Why? There are probably many reasons for editors other than my wild imagination may list. Media bosses may fear the consequences of reporting polls that show the popularity of the president and his electoral alliance below 50 percent.
When you add it up, a party with almost 50 percent popularity in the previous election with another party with well over 13 percent of the vote must produce an electoral block of around 60-65 percent. Socially, however, two plus two might be five or something far less than what the math would say.
I have read a poll with many scenarios regarding alliances. The support for the AKP-MHP alliance in all those polls were between 41 and 44.5 percent, while a poll by another company put their prospective vote share as high as 48 percent. Indeed, there is still almost two months.
On the other hand, an election alliance with the CHP and three other opposition parties, excluding the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), might receive around 46 percent, while the HDP could still score as high as 12 percent. I said “still” because the political party has been attacked, its executives and deputies have been imprisoned and a national perception has been created against it that it is a political extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)—I also share that conviction by the way. According to many polls, the HDP might not have much difficulty in getting over the 10 percent national threshold and sending some deputies to parliament.
The end result? In the remaining weeks leading up to election day, the government will use everything possible to buy more votes. An amnesty for irregular construction that has devastated Turkish cities, particularly Istanbul, is already underway. It was also announced that retired people as well as relatives of martyrs will be given two bonuses a year, each around 200 euros, both before the religious holidays.
As a coincidence—I love this word—one of those bonuses will apparently be distributed before the upcoming religious holiday, which will coincidentally be observed merely a week before Turks go to the ballot booths.
How much of this officiousness and generosity from state coffers might be considered from the Machiavellian philosophy of “end justifies the means” is something we should perhaps debate after the election results are obtained. In any case, there is not much time left until the booths are put in place and the CHP is still pondering who to nominate as a presidential candidate. It appears almost certain the incumbent might score an easy victory, if not in the first round of the run off.
However, if reelected, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan might be compelled to learn the words cohabitation, reconciliation and compromise the hard way. As in all polls, there is the stress that together with the HDP, the collective seats of the opposition in parliament might be—like the last June 2015 elections—considerably more than that of the AKP.
In that case, let’s hope Turkey will not live a situation like that of the June 2015 to November 2015 period, where the AKP will prove to Turks the importance of stability once again. That was a very painful time.