There are less than two weeks left until the presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey, in light of the confrontation between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Unprecedented challenges Which could end his two-decade dominance.
Türkiye elections: opinion polls amid crisis and estimates of record turnout
the voters It will go to the polls on May 14, to decide the fate of the Turkish Republic less than three months after the February 6 earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people and displaced more than 5.9 million across the country. Southern Türkiye and Northern Syria.
The election is also taking place amid a severe economic crisis and what analysts say is democratic erosion in its shadow Erdogan’s government.
Opinion polls predict a record turnout this year and a close race between Erdogan and the main opposition candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People’s Party and presidential candidate of the six-party National Alliance bloc.
Turkey’s demographics are also expected to play a role: most of the provinces hit by the February earthquake were strongholds of Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party. But the head of the Supreme Electoral Council, Ahmet Jener, said last month that at least one million voters in the quake-hit areas were expected not to vote this year amid exodus.
And even if s Kilicdaroglu Some analysts say that if Erdogan wins the elections, he may not hand over power to his successor without a fight.
How do elections take place in Türkiye?
Türkiye holds elections every five years. Presidential candidates may be nominated by parties that crossed the 5% threshold of the electorate in the last parliamentary election or by parties that have collected at least 100,000 signatures in support of their candidacy.
The candidate who receives more than 50% of the votes in the first round is elected president, but if no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the election goes to a second round between the two candidates who received the most votes in the first round. .
Who are the contenders?
Four candidates are running in this year’s presidential election. Apart from Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu, Center leader of the National Party Muharram Inch and O Right-wing candidate of the predecessor coalition Sinan Ogan was also nominated.
Presidential candidate for the second time, who lost Erdogan in 2018, Muharram Inch He broke away from the CHP in March, garnering enough signatures to enter the presidential race, despite the party’s demand that he withdraw.
Murat Sommer, a political science professor at Koc University in Istanbul, told CNN that Ence, who has been at odds with Kilicdaroglu, could run to boost his popularity, even though he knows he is unlikely to win the election.
Sommer added that, however, it might tip the balance enough to send the election to a second ballot. Support inch about 5%according to a MetroPoll survey.
Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat and head of the Istanbul-based think tank EDAM, told CNN that the presidential election is likely to be voted on again, especially if Ence maintains his modest but influential level of support.
Parties must receive at least 7% of the vote – either on their own or in alliance with other parties – to enter Parliament.
Voting will take place on May 14, when candidates will vote simultaneously for both elections. The second presidential election, if held, will take place on May 28.
What are the main interests of voters?
One of the main concerns of voters is the state of the economy and the damage caused by the earthquake. Even before the February debacle, Turkey was reeling from a price hike and currency crisis that in October saw inflation soar to 85 percent.
This affected the purchasing power of the public and is “the main reason behind the erosion of Erdogan’s popularity”. Male Ulgen. “This will be Erdogan’s biggest flaw,” he said.
Analysts said that voters are also voting for who they see as the best in managing the effects of the earthquake, as well as protecting the country from future disasters, adding that Erdogan’s popularity did not have the expected political impact.
A Metropoll survey in April showed that more voters believed Erdogan and his People’s Alliance could help deal with the aftermath of the earthquake, compared to Kilicdaroglu and his Nation Alliance.
“There is a discussion about the electoral program that provides the right solution to address these weaknesses and strengthen Turkey’s resilience in the face of these national disasters,” Ulgen said.
In addition to the economy and the government’s handling of Turkey’s frequent natural disasters, voters are likely to worry about Erdogan’s drift away from democracy – something the opposition has campaigned to reverse.
What do the polls say?
A record number of voters are expected to turn out in the May election, Metropoll forecasts.
The head of the Supreme Election Council said last month that nearly 5 million first-time voters, most of whom will know Erdogan only as a leader, are expected to participate this year.
The Metropoll survey showed that in the first round of elections, voters are likely to support Kilicdaroglu, with Erdoğan coming in second, followed by Ence and Ögan. Support for Kilicdaroglu reached 42.6% and Erdogan 41.1%. If Ince drops out of the presidential race, more voters are likely to turn to Kilicdaroglu than to Erdogan.
in Parliamentary electionsHowever, Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party is leading Voting by majority vote.
Over the years, Erdogan’s government has silenced dissent and arrested critics, particularly those affiliated with the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), over alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider a terrorist organization. .
The HDP did not field a presidential candidate, but on Friday officially endorsed Kilicdaroglu, saying the party was fulfilling its “historic duty to our traditions and to the future generation”.
the HDPShe, who announced in March that her candidates would join the Green Left Party for fear of being shut down, added that she is running in the parliamentary elections with the Labor and Freedom Alliance. The bloc was established in 2022 and is a left-wing coalition of six parties led by the HDP.
Analysts expect that The electoral base of the HDP It will play a major role in the elections, possibly tipping the balance too far in Kilicdaroglu’s favour. the Metropole survey Last month showed that the vast majority of HDP voters are likely to vote for Erdogan’s main challenger.
What if Erdogan loses?
Some analysts say that if Erdoğan loses the vote by a narrow margin, it opens the door for him to contest the results. And if past experience is any measure, the president and the AKP may not accept defeat lightly.
During the 2019 local elections in Istanbul and Ankarathe AKP lost control of the country’s financial center and its capital, prompting party officials in both cities to reject the results, citing voting irregularities.
The CHP’s lead in Istanbul was particularly narrow and eventually led to the Supreme Election Board’s decision in favor of a re-vote, which the opposition strongly disagreed with.
the Candidate for the post of mayor of Istanbul From the Republican People’s Party Ekrem Imamoglu Then he won re-election, which dealt a blow to Erdogan.
Ulgen questioned YSK’s independence, saying it might hold back potential applications for a recount. He said the body would be the final arbiter of the race.
A 2023 report by Freedom House stated that YSK judges, who oversee all voting procedures, are “appointed by AKP-dominated judicial bodies and often subordinate to the AKP in their rulings.” The Washington-based group said the AKP’s “institutional dominance” of the media and other sectors of society “tilts the electoral field” in Erdoğan’s favor.
“Hipster-friendly coffee fanatic. Subtly charming bacon advocate. Friend of animals everywhere.”