Attitude Estimation | The estimate deals with the upcoming general elections in Turkey, scheduled for mid-May, amid internal challenges that have resulted in a complex electoral map and increased polarization between the political forces. The estimate indicates several scenarios regarding the possible results of the upcoming electoral process.
Next May 14, the Turks will go to the polls to cast their votes in the presidential and parliamentary elections, and these elections will be held at a time when Turkey faces a set of important and urgent issues, especially the worsening economic situation and the repercussions of the devastating February earthquakes. Turkey will also decide the nature of its rule and what will become of its economic policies, in addition to determining the nature of the role that Turkey will play on the regional and international arenas, as these elections may lead to the continuation of the era of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who has been leading Turkey for two decades – if he wins. In it, but in the event that the opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu and his alliance win, this will be a herald of the start of a different new era in Turkey, especially with the opposition’s pledge to undo many of Erdogan’s policies, return to the parliamentary system, implement stricter monetary policies, and restore the independence of the central bank, which raises questions. Concerning indicators of the strength and weakness of each party in this electoral race, and what are the expected scenarios that these elections may lead to?
The impact of the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections of 2023 will not be limited to the level of internal files related to the usual political competition between parties, but rather will have an impact on a global level, as the Washington Post considered it the most important event in the year 2023; Because of the radical changes that will result in many of the region’s files. Turkey’s regional role did not suddenly take shape, as the active diplomacy adopted by the Justice and Development Party over the past two decades had a role in linking it to the security and stability of the region, in addition to its growing effectiveness in files outside its regional scope, such as its activity in Africa, and other files related to developments in the region such as the energy crisis and the cereal crisis. This regional role makes the presidential elections – in particular – a global event with its consequences. These results are fundamentally linked to the challenges that constitute the Turkish scene, which will have a degree of influence on the expected results, and the most prominent of these challenges are:
With the presidential and legislative elections approaching in Turkey, competition has escalated between parties and alliances, amid internal and external challenges. It is being held at a time when the country is facing the repercussions of the devastating earthquake that hit it last February, which is expected to exacerbate the economic crisis with inflation rates rising to high levels, in addition to security threats and fears of repeating terrorist attacks, the last of which was on November 13, 2022, after an explosion. A bomb in the Taksim area killed 6 people and injured more than 80. The elections also coincide with a remarkable development in Turkish foreign policy, revealed by Ankara’s tendency towards openness in its relations with regional countries.
Internally, recently, the Turkish government has sought to take several domestic policies to mitigate the tangible consequences of the unprecedented rise in inflation. It has worked to raise the minimum wage, and after the devastation caused by the earthquake, the government announced a major campaign for reconstruction in the affected areas.
The country witnessed a record wave of inflation about two years ago, and the leader of the Future Party, Hoca Oglu, considered that “Turkish public opinion feels the economic decline, the middle class has greatly diminished and the segment of the poor has increased,” adding that “the economy will greatly affect the Turkish voter.”
Writer Tahir Oglu expected the opposition to focus on the point where many of the promises and goals of 2023 have not been fulfilled, such as per capita income, reducing unemployment, inflation, and so on, although crises such as Corona and the Ukraine war contributed in some way to exacerbating the already existing economic crisis.
externally; Turkey continues its intensive moves in the region to strengthen its role as a mediator in the Ukrainian crisis, as well as to participate in the formulation of political and security arrangements related to many crises in the region, especially in Syria, Libya, and the eastern Mediterranean, which represent strategic cards for Turkish policy, and this was evident in its tendency to expand the scope of Its presence in Libya and northern Iraq, and the strengthening of its rapprochement with Damascus, as well as its role in preserving the Azerbaijani-Armenian peace agreements.
For its part, the opposition mobilizes its efforts and expands the areas of coordination between them. In February 2022, it established the Six-Party Alliance (Table of six), or what is known as the “Six Table”, which seeks to secure a strong position for itself in the Turkish political arena. It is an extension of the opposition “Ummah” coalition, and includes parties (The Republican People, the Good Party, and the conservative Felicity Party, in addition to the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), the Future Party, and finally the Democratic Party). The Table Alliance raises the importance of returning to the parliamentary system, as well as stopping the interference of the executive authority in drawing up the country’s monetary policies, along with an emphasis on openness to Turkey’s neighboring countries, and the need to end Turkish military involvement in the region’s conflicts.
Complex Electoral Map
The upcoming Turkish elections, both the presidential and parliamentary, open to a map of new and complex political alliances, unlike the scene in the previous elections, as the arena witnesses a number of competing or interlocking electoral alliances, distributed between large and effective alliances, and small and ineffective ones, which can be divided as follows:
First: the large active alliances
A- “al-Jumhour” Public Alliance
It includes the parties: Justice and Development (the ruler), and its partner, the National Movement Party, in addition to the Great Unity Party (right), as well as the Free Dawa Party, or what is known in Turkish as “Huda Bar”, which is a Kurdish party with Islamic and nationalist leanings.
The popular base of this alliance is based on the national and Islamic dimensions, and these parties have agreed regarding the presidential elections to push the current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to run for the presidential elections. Erbakan, son of former president Necmettin Erbakan, is running for president.
It is also expected that this coalition will repeat the scenario of the 2018 elections, and it will also run the legislative elections race in coordination and absolute consensus.
B- The Ummah (Nation) Alliance
It includes parties: the Republican People, which represents an extension of the legacy of the founder of the Turkish Republic, Kemal Ataturk, the Good or Good Party, which was founded in 2017, and the Felicity Party, which represents an extension of the ideas of Necmettin Erbakan, in addition to the “center-right” Democratic Party.
It is likely that the parties of the “Nation Alliance”, which was established on the eve of the 2018 elections, will participate in the parliamentary elections together and coordinate with each other.
Second: alliances of small parties
Several separate parties are participating in the upcoming Turkish elections, which may exceed ten parties with multiple orientations, and their participation is often seen as aiming to split the ranks of large alliances, namely:
1- The Left Alliance “Labour and Freedom”
It includes parties: the Democratic Peoples’ Party, the political wing of the Kurds, along with 5 left-wing parties, namely: “The Democratic Peoples”, “Turkish Workers TİP”, “EMEP Labor”, “Social Freedom TOP”, and “EHP Labor Movement”. And the Union of Socialist Councils.
This coalition was established in August 2022 and is scheduled to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections with a unified list, without agreeing on a presidential candidate.
2- Small secular alliance “ATA”
It includes parties: the “Victory” party led by Umit Ozdag, known for its hostility to foreigners, especially Syrians, in addition to the “Justice”, “Truth” and “Turkish Alliance” and “Baladi” parties. The alliance upholds the values of Ataturk and secularism over all others, and here the name of the alliance “Ata” can be interpreted, a word taken from the word “Ataturk”.
The limited ability of this coalition to compete in the upcoming elections is not limited to its presidential and parliamentary parts, but rather the programs and plans it presents and the visions it presents for managing the country. As the alliance appears to be elitist, ideologically remarkably, and even racist, which was revealed by the statements of the head of the Justice Party regarding the formation of the new alliance, when he said, “Anyone who will be with us must stand side by side with Ataturk. It cannot be the opponents of Ataturk and the opponents of secularism With us”, and the coalition parties may agree to nominate their candidate, Sinan Ogan, to run in the presidential elections.
3- Table of six
It includes parties: the Umma Alliance (Republican People’s Party and the National Good Party) and with it the Felicity Party, the Future Party founded by former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and the Democracy and Progress Party led by Ali Baba Jan, both of which were previously part of the Justice and Development Party, along with the Democratic Party .
The table tends to strengthen the areas of coordination between them in the parliamentary elections, especially as they converged on pushing a joint candidate to represent them in the presidential elections, after they chose Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the Republican People’s Party.
The parties of the table of six converge on the importance of returning to the parliamentary system, and therefore many observers believe that the table of six coalition may push everything it has in the upcoming parliamentary elections, with the aim of returning once again to the parliamentary system that ended in 2018.
4- Independent participation
In addition to the previous existing alliances, which are still in the process of being formed, there are parties that may prefer to contest the legislative elections without entering into electoral alliances, in the forefront of which are the Democracy and Progress Party and the Future Party. This possibility is reinforced by the nature of the political practice of these two parties since their emergence three years ago. They chose to play small and limited roles in the political arena, and focused most of their political efforts with the opposition on enhancing the chances of returning to the parliamentary system.
On the other hand, at the presidential level, candidate Muharram Anja, head of the Watan Party, is running the race individually, and he is the only individual candidate after the decline of other prominent candidates such as Meral Aksnar and Dogo Brink, leader of the left-wing Nationalist Homeland Party, Cem Ozan, former head of the Youth Party, and Ahmed Ozal. One party leader.
In light of the contexts governing the Turkish electoral scene, and the map of existing and potential electoral alliances, several scenarios can be indicated regarding the possible results of the upcoming electoral process, and the political weights of the participating alliances. In this context, several levels can be indicated.
The first scenario: the continued dominance of the People’s Alliance.
It is a very real possibility, and it is reinforced by several indicators:
First: The removal of Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayor of Istanbul, from the scene of the presidential elections, especially after the Turkish judiciary ruled on December 14, 2020, that Imamoglu was imprisoned for two years on charges of insulting members of the Supreme Electoral Council. The ruling also included the activation of Article 35 of the Penal Code, which imposes a ban on political activity for those convicted with a sentence exceeding two years, which may prevent Davutoglu from running for the presidential elections.
Second: The remarkable shift in the popularity of the Justice and Development Party and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as a poll conducted by Metropoll in late October 2022 showed that the percentage of support for the Turkish president rose to 47.6%, up from 39% in early 2022. Perhaps the remarkable rise in the popularity of the Turkish president is due to His recent approval of a package of social and financial aid and incentives, the most important of which is raising the minimum wage by 55%, and raising the salaries and pensions of civil servants. An opinion poll published by the “Arida Survey” Research Center between February 23-27, in which 3,000 people participated, revealed that President Erdogan received 49.8%, compared to 21.1% for his rival Kemal Kılıcaroğlu.
Third: The potential improvement in economic indicators during the coming period, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Minister of Energy and Natural
Resources Fatih Donmez announced in August 2022 that the gas discovered in the “Sakarya 1” field in the Black Sea region will enter the pumping stage in the first quarter of this year 2023. And it accompanies This is with the return of investments and bank deposits from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and the Russian-Turkish projects to make the latter a center for Russian natural gas exports. And if the scenario of starting to use domestic gas in March 2023 is realized along with foreign investments, the Turkish economy may witness sufficient positive indicators to cause a shift in the orientations of Turkish voters in favor of the Justice and Development Party.
Fourth: The success of the Turkish president in settling the issue of the Syrian refugees after the rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus, and the agreement on the return of nearly a million Syrians to their country. In addition to reducing tensions with regional and international countries, especially with the Gulf states, Egypt and Greece, after the visit of the Egyptian and Greek foreign ministers to Ankara to show sympathy and assistance after the devastating earthquake in February 2023.
Fifth: The Turkish government put forward rapid plans to recover from the losses caused by the earthquake, and plans to rebuild the destroyed cities and towns in southern Turkey in a record time within one year, in addition to compensating the financial losses incurred by citizens.
On a related note, it is not unlikely that the “Justice and Development Party” and its partner, the “National Movement”, will lose the absolute majority in Parliament, in light of the continuing state of discontent over the deterioration in living conditions.
This expectation means a repeat of what happened in the general elections in 2015, when the Justice and Development Party lost its parliamentary majority, and in the event of this scenario, it will be likely that the opposition, if it forms the majority, will propose a draft change to the constitution to restore the powers of parliament that were affected by the constitutional amendments that were carried out. In 2017, the country was transferred to presidential rule.
The second scenario: the opposition secures the largest number of parliamentary seats
Since the country’s transition to a presidential system in 2017, and the decline in economic indicators, the “Nation Alliance”, with the help of its partners in the “Table of Six”, has a potential opportunity to obtain a majority of the 600 seats in Parliament, at the expense of the “Justice and Development” Party and its partner, the “National Movement”. Whoever won the parliamentary majority. An opinion poll published by Aksoy Research, a research company in Turkey, on March 13, 2023, revealed that the main opposition bloc received 44.1% of support, the Democratic People’s Party 10.3%, and the Justice and Development Party and its ally the National Movement Party 38%.
This is related to several factors:
First: The opposition exploited the state of societal tension over the situation of the Syrian refugees at home, which may allow the opposition to secure the largest number of national votes and electoral sectors that are not ideologically opposed to the refugees.
Second: The opposition’s experience in the ability to coordinate regarding the candidacy process in electoral districts. This coordination took place for the first time in the municipal elections in 2019, which contributed to its victory in Turkey’s largest municipality. Similar to what happened in the municipalities, it is expected that the Ummah Alliance parties will not present candidates in states where the other enjoys a great chance of winning, in order to prevent votes from being fragmented. It is also expected that the Nation Alliance will also coordinate with the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, despite not joining the coalition, by not fielding the Kurds with candidates in areas that represent traditional constituencies for the parties of the Nation Alliance.
Third: The success of the Ummah Alliance and its partners in investing the negative effects of economic crises, by promoting the idea of the ruling party’s wrong economic behaviors in managing the economy, and emphasizing that President Erdogan’s interference in drawing up the country’s monetary policies increased the severity of the situation, and caused the collapse of the lira’s price, and the rise of rates Unemployment and inflation, which deepened the negative effects of the living conditions of the Turkish citizen.
On the other hand, the opposition forces, whether the “Umma Alliance” or the “Table of Six”, may fail to resolve the presidential seat, given the ideological and intellectual differences between their members, which represent a challenge to building a consensual base regarding the presidential entitlement.
The third scenario: the ruling coalition loses the electoral process
In this scenario, the “Justice and Development” party and the “al-Jumhour” coalition may lose the electoral process, in both its presidential and parliamentary parts, which means the formation of a government led by the opposition. However, this scenario seems unlikely, as the “Justice and Development” party and President Erdogan still enjoy wide acceptance in popular circles, in addition to the fact that the partnership with the “Nationalist Movement” party guarantees it securing the votes of the nationalist movement.
In addition, the successes of the Turkish president in settling controversial issues with the Turkish neighboring countries allowed for a remarkable recovery in the Turkish economy, as Ankara obtained financial deposits from Gulf countries, and the markets of these countries reopened to Turkish products after years of embargo, which contributed to Revitalizing the Turkish business environment.
Fourth scenario: The Democratic People’s Party crossed the electoral threshold and lost the presidential seat
It is expected that Salah al-Din Demirtas, who announced in early January 2023 from prison, will fail to run for the presidential elections, through his Twitter account, which is managed by his lawyer. However, it is highly likely that the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party will be able to cross the threshold of 7% of the total vote, which is set by Turkish electoral law as a condition for any party to enter parliament, and win a significant number of seats, perhaps up to about 80 seats, especially since there are There is a sure chance that the voter turnout among the Kurds will increase significantly during the upcoming elections.
In parallel with the above, there are potential opportunities for the presence and seats of the Democratic People’s Party to rise in the next parliament, and if it succeeds in winning a number of seats, it will push with the rest of the opposition forces towards a return to the parliamentary system. On the other hand, it is not likely that the “Democratic People’s Party” will expand the circle of political understandings with the “Table of Six”, if it passes the next parliament, against the background of its exclusion by the six-party alliance, which angered the Kurdish party, which is facing a lawsuit to dissolve it on charges of terrorism. .
Fifth scenario: the decline of the influence of “small parties”
There are expectations that small parties, whether integrated in leftist or secular alliances, will not have the chance to enter parliament, and that if these parties run for elections independently or meet in electoral alliances, they may not be able to enter parliament. It exceeds 5% of the total vote, and that its entry into the electoral process comes as a result of its endeavor to ensure presence in the political scene or impose its conditions, and to maximize its gains from the main political forces in the event that none of them is able to resolve the presidential elections in the first round.
Finally; It can be said that there are expectations of a change in the upcoming electoral scene represented in the rise of the opposition in Parliament, and obtaining a number of additional seats compared to the 2018 elections, in which it won 230 seats, including 138 seats for the Republican People’s Party, and 36 seats for the Good Party, compared to 56 seats for the Kurdish Democratic Peoples.
As for the presidential elections, the most likely scenario is that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wins the presidential seat in the second round, even though the opposition was able to field a consensual candidate.