Turkey’s opposition parties in intense bid to shape election strategies
Given only two months to prepare for the early presidential and parliamentary elections, Turkey’s political parties are scrambling to piece together strategies ahead of the vote.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is set to announce its election manifesto in the coming week ahead of a large party congress in Istanbul, while the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is still working to come up with an election strategy for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections and to find a candidate for the June 24 vote.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his AKP is preparing to announce its election manifesto before a grand congress to be held next week, as parliamentary commissions work to prepare harmonization laws before the campaigning period starts.
“We will announce our manifesto. My team is working on it and, God willing, we will have it ready before the Istanbul congress,” Erdoğan said on April 20 in Istanbul.
While the AKP had already started its congress period in recent months, the president said the party will reschedule some congresses and prepare a roadmap for the campaign.
“We will announce our roadmap on April 27. We will assess our schedule and create a new map. We will conduct surveys and work to determine lawmaker candidates,” Erdoğan added.
He also said the AKP’s alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for the elections will continue “also in the parliamentary processes.”
The AKP and the MHP have already endorsed Erdoğan as their candidate for president and are set to focus on preparing lists of potential lawmakers and campaigning strategies.
Opposition to determine strategy
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), meanwhile, is also working to shape an election strategy that would provide an advantage for the opposition bloc in both presidential and parliamentary elections.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu will accelerate meetings with leaders of parties that opposed the constitutional amendment in the April 2017 referendum.
The CHP is expected to hold talks with İYİ (Good) Party, the Felicity Party (SP), the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Democrat Party (DP) before a party assembly meeting on April 24, during which the opposition’s candidate and strategy will be determined.
With the meetings, Kılıçdaroğlu will try to “convince the political parties outside of the AKP-MHP alliance to unite around one candidate in the second round of voting and to enter parliament with a combined majority,” CHP sources told daily Hürriyet.
According to this new strategy, the CHP is planning for every political party to present its own candidate for the first round of presidential elections to maximize turnout and increase likelihood for a second round.
If none of the candidates collect 50 percent of the votes in the first round, the presidential race will continue into a second round with two of the best candidates.
The CHP’s strategy projects the opposition bloc to supporting the candidate competing against Erdoğan in the second round, while also facing the difficulty of the diverse political positions of the country’s various opposition parties.
Two CHP candidacies
Responding to reporters’ questions about whether he would consider being the CHP’s candidate, Kılıçdaroğlu pointed to the April 24 party assembly meeting for the determination of the CHP’s presidential candidates.
Meanwhile, two CHP lawmakers, deputy chair Öztürk Yılmaz and deputy Didem Engin, have already put themselves forward as candidates for the presidency, prompting questions and uncertainty within the party.