The economic situation and election alliances
Political parties establishing alliances have proven to be a very effective tool, not for staying in power, but more so for consolidating an established power base. Would President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan manage to be elected without the alliance between his Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in the parliamentary and presidential elections? The results have indicated how cunning it was to make such an election alliance, which is indeed nothing less than establishing a coalition before the elections rather than the usual post-poll one.
Such alliances, in a country with an established electoral base of around 65 percent conservative and 35 percent social democratic or leftist voters, however, might end up consolidating the already sufficiently strong majority conservative political elements. Often, Erdoğan has been ridiculed by the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for last being in power when there was a one-party system in the country, apart from extraordinary periods. With the exception of the first half of the 1970s, perhaps the president was rather accurate in his remarks.
The economic difficulties of the 1970s were mostly blamed on the conservative or social democratic-dominated two-way or three-way coalition governments; an allergy was developed in the country against coalitions. Yet, one-party governance since 2002 has been unable to save the country from the present-day economic and financial crisis.
What might be the dimension of this crisis? Could it be worse than the one in 2001 that carried the AKP to power? With the Turkish currency losing over 68 percent of its value against most currencies, it has already become clear enough that however strong the government denies the country is in a crisis, as far as purchasing power, Turks are much worse off than in 2001.
Relativity is a very important factor in presenting economic data as well as the political or social perception of the people. For example, if the price of a kilogram of tomatoes is 5 or 6 Turkish Liras this month, while at the same period last year it was only 1.25 to 1.50 liras a kilo, we may easily say there is a price differentiation of up to 300 percent or more. If we are to talk about the euro, on the other hand, if 1.5 liras was about 50 cents this time last year, tomato prices of 5-6 liras this year might only represent around 25-30 percent increase. In any case, Turks are earning in liras and spending mostly in liras, thus the crisis is one of the Turkish currency spending Turkish citizens.
What might be the difference between establishing a post-poll coalition of two or more parties or entering into a political pre-election alliance and coming to central or local power strong? Can anyone claim that pre-election alliances are in effect different than post-poll coalitions? Perhaps pre-election coalitions are more productive than the post-election ones, particularly in local elections.
For example, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli’s statement that his party will not nominate a candidate for Istanbul mayor—a first for a political party of MHP caliber—was a shock for the CHP that lost the seat to the AKP last time by only a nuance. The combined vote of the AKP-MHP may exceed 45 percent, according to polls, but a CHP candidate could reach 40 percent in Istanbul at best.