Abdullah Gül and Turkey’s elections

Ahead of the hectic atmosphere of the snap elections in Turkey, the opposition parties haven’t decided on a mutual candidate that has a chance to compete

It is not a secret that a possible presidential candidacy of Abdullah Gül, who has always been a “prince charming” to the European capitals with his statements, would be favored by the Western countries. However, I did not see any foreign “Turkey experts” explaining Gül’s weak public image in Turkey and the decline of this image even more over the past two weeks during which his nomination has been on the agenda. Let me briefly explain this phenomenon.First of all, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, who ran for presidency but lost to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the joint candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in the previous presidential election, has announced that he will vote for Erdoğan in the upcoming early elections. Subsequently, CHP Deputy İlhan Cihaner, CHP Deputy Head Selin Sayek Böke and CHP Deputy Chairman Özgür Özel announced on their social media accounts that Gül will not be the candidate of the CHP. The primary reason for this is surely the antipathy of the CHP base toward Gül.

Furthermore, CHP Deputy Muharrem İnce, who is considered the leading figure from the party the CHP seems to present as a candidate, said in an interview he gave to a newspaper that he would support Erdoğan if he has to waver between Erdoğan and Gül. Considering the base of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), who are bitter against Gül’s turning his back on his former affiliation with the AK Party and Erdoğan although they helped him become president and running candidacy negotiations with the CHP, it becomes obvious that Gül has been declared as a persona non grata both by the ruling and main opposition parties.

As I stated in the article titled “Why can’t Gül weaken Erdoğan?” I penned four years ago: “If Gül, as a valuable political figure, pays attention to the voice of the AK Party’s grassroots, he can resume in his political path in due course. But I am afraid the result will not change if he awaits Erdoğan’s failure.”

Therefore, it can be said that Gül’s candidacy is not expected unless an unnecessarily major risk is taken. In this case, the remaining possible candidates are the newly-formed Good Party (İP) candidate Meral Akşener and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) candidate Selahattin Demirtaş. But both names could not go beyond 20 percent in the polls so far. Consequently, the predictions suggesting that Erdoğan will easily win in the first round of the presidential election will probably come out right unless we run into a great surprise.

The competition will be keener in the parliamentary election. Since the presidential system presents no possibility of a coalition government, the electorate can be inclined to elect a more diverse parliament. So, a voter who opts for Erdoğan in the presidential election might support the MHP in the parliamentary election. Or, a voter supporting Akşener in the presidential election might vote for the CHP in the parliamentary election. Consequently, an unparalleled picture can be expected between the parliamentary arithmetic and the vote shares in the presidential election. But still, it is commonly predicted that the AK Party will come out as the first party whereas the CHP will be the main opposition.

In any case, some exciting and hectic days are ahead of us as for Turkey’s vibrant democracy.

Source  Daily Sabah

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About the author

Hilal Kaplan

Hilal Kaplan

Hilal Kaplan is a political commentator, a columnist for Sabah and other news publishers. She's based in Istanbul, Turkey.

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