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HomeHeadlineApril 1st and Beyond: The Political Shifts in Turkey's Election Landscape

April 1st and Beyond: The Political Shifts in Turkey’s Election Landscape

M. AHMET KARABAY

In my last article, I summarized what would happen if the candidates affiliated with the AK Party, led by President Tayyip Erdoğan, particularly win in Istanbul, as well as nationwide. I wrote that the only way to steer the country onto a democratic path was by saying “Stop” to Erdoğan’s candidates.

With two days left to go to the polls, public opinion research firms published their last surveys. Gezici survey and a couple of lesser-known firms announced that the AK Party candidate, Murat Kurum, would emerge from the ballot box in Istanbul on March 31st. According to Gezici, Murat Kurum is at 42.3%, while Ekrem İmamoğlu is at 41.6%.

Aside from that, well-known public opinion firms announced that the CHP candidate, Ekrem İmamoğlu, would be the victor. The most striking result came from Metropoll Research, led by Prof. Dr. Özer Sencar. According to Metropoll, after distributing the undecided votes, CHP’s candidate İmamoğlu is ahead of Murat Kurum by 10 points. İmamoğlu is at 47.9%, Kurum at 37.2%.

When Prof. Dr. Sencar’s firm also asked the question “İmamoğlu or Erdoğan?”, İmamoğlu still wins. İmamoğlu: 40.8%, Erdoğan: 38.6%.

According to the results of eight different survey firms, İmamoğlu will be the winner of the elections in Istanbul.

ERDOĞAN TO BE SHAKEN BY SELF-CONFIDENCE

For the rest of my article, I will proceed on the assumption that İmamoğlu will win in Istanbul, and in other election centers, AK Party candidates will lose votes compared to the 2019 elections. If Erdoğan manages to pull a rabbit out of the hat in the last two days, we can all laugh at the rest of my article together.

Let me also share why I entered such a risky topic. As a society, one of the least things we do is to break free from some ideological bigotry and fail to conduct social simulations. In the rest of the article, we will have conducted a social simulation together.

Erdoğan made his first mistake in Istanbul by selecting the candidate. Erdoğan knows best that whoever takes control in Istanbul sets their sights on Ankara. Therefore, preferring low-profile candidates like Kadir Topbaş and Binali Yıldırım in previous elections, Erdoğan chose Murat Kurum for the same reason.

Thinking he could compensate for the low profile by stepping into the field himself, Erdoğan deployed 17 ministers to Istanbul. The electorate was expecting the President to hold rallies for Kurum. The President on one side, and all ministers of the cabinet on the other, asked for votes for Kurum. This situation worked against Kurum, not in his favor. Trying to compensate for their candidate’s deficiencies led the likely AK Party voters to ask, “Why did you nominate such an ineffective figure?”

When so many ministers started walking the streets of Istanbul, this scenario created a sense of victimhood in favor of İmamoğlu, similar to what happened on March 31, 2019.

Especially the Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and the Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya, responsible for election security, asking for votes for Kurum in front of the electorate, greatly disturbed the average voter. Despite all this, if İmamoğlu wins, the scenario will be exactly as follows:

17 ministers + President = Do not even equal 1 İmamoğlu.

This equation will have many repercussions after April 1st. Think about it, Erdoğan, who emerged victorious from the alliances he formed on May 14 and 28, had shattered the opposition alliance. The Nation Alliance was fragmented, and the main opposition party’s leader lost his seat.

After the election, the Nation Alliance dissolved, but the scenario envisioned by the alliance leaders for May 14th came to light in every aspect. The deepening of the economic crisis, additional charges on fuel prices, and the soaring of foreign exchange rates were all realized.

10 months later, the country is heading to the polls again. This time, there is no People’s Alliance. It was hardly seen that MHP worked for AK Party candidates. The MHP’s standoffish attitude will negatively reflect on AK Party in Istanbul and other important centers. If what Erdoğan said in Diyarbakır square comes true and a new opening is brought up, MHP’s complete withdrawal from the alliance might come to the agenda.

SHIFTS IN PARTIES WILL OCCUR

It seems that the surprise party of this election will be the New Welfare Party (YRP), led by Fatih Erbakan. Should the AK Party fail to achieve the claimed results, some fluctuations will occur within the ruling party.

National Vision supporters within the AK Party will start seeing the YRP as a center of attraction. The leader of the Felicity Party, Temel Karamollaoğlu, will come to a point of handing over the flag, and the party will either officially or at the grassroots level shift to the YRP.

This clustering will also affect the Future Party after the YRP’s barrier issue becomes non-existent. It wouldn’t be surprising if Ahmet Davutoğlu found a way to position himself within the new party.

The momentum that the İYİ Party caught before the May 14 elections last year has been reversing for a while. After the elections, it is talked about that at least 4, possibly 7 deputies from the İYİ Party will switch to Ali Babacan’s DEVA Party. With these transfers, DEVA, which has 15 deputies, will be able to form a group in the Parliament.

Don’t be surprised if one of the losers of the new term is the Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya. Once the desired result was achieved in the fight against mafia-type structures and it was certain that Turkey would be removed from the international grey list, there was no longer a need for Yerlikaya. If Kurum loses, Yerlikaya, fearing removal from his ministry and being seen as the person responsible for losing Istanbul, will go. Don’t be fooled by his daily TV appearances; there’s no doubt that one of those to go will be AK Party Istanbul Provincial Chairman Osman Kabaktepe.

ERDOĞAN TREATED LIKE ROCKEFELLER

There’s a journalistic folklore that’s been told since I started my career. John Davidson Rockefeller, known as the richest man in history, when bedridden, his children started to prepare a single-copy newspaper to protect him from outside negativity. One of his best-selling newspapers’ pages would be filled only with good news.

Every morning, when father Rockefeller was handed his newspaper in his sickbed, he would read news stories suggesting everything was going well. His own companies were constantly signing new deals, the president always spoke gratefully of him, and even his fortune-telling was always promising.

Erdoğan, who holds all the media, certainly doesn’t need such a newspaper. However, it seems that no one dares to present Erdoğan with bad results from public opinion research. He must have been presented with results suggesting AK Party candidates win everywhere, much like Rockefeller’s rose-tinted newspaper.

We will all see together how Turkey wakes up to April 1st.

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