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Is Erdogan Assured of First-Round Victory?

In their June 14 article, “Erdoğan Not Assured of First-Round Victory,” published by ‘Center for American Progress’, the authors ‘John Halpin, Max Hoffman, Alan Makovsky and Michael Werz analyze recent polling data to show that with less than two weeks remaining until the 24 June elections, President Erdogan enjoys a commanding lead over his competitors, but does not have enough support to ensure a first round victory.

Similarly, Erdogan’s AKP and coalition partner MHP fall slightly short of a parliamentary majority, with 46 percent support compared to 33 percent for the opposition coalition and ten percent for the majority-Kurdish HDP.

That’s why Erdoğan has urged his party’s local officials last week to ensure that the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) remains under the 10 percent election threshold so that the AKP can achieve a bigger success in the upcoming general election. Many believe that Erdogan and AKP officials could even try some illegal ways to achieve that goal.

The authors note that, should the HDP fail to make the ten percent threshold, it will likely benefit the AKP. Nevertheless, a majority of respondents hold favorable views of Erdogan, seeing him as a strong leader who can unite the country.

The survey results showed an electorate divided along party lines over questions of the government’s economic and fiscal policies and the living standards in the country. Not surprisingly, AKP and MHP supporters view the government’s economic policies significantly more favorably than those intending to vote for opposition coalition candidates; they are also more likely to say that their families’ standard of living has increased in recent years.

In addition, AKP-MHP supporters have far greater confidence than opposition-coalition supporters in the free and fair nature of the June 24 vote. In a deviation from this pattern, however, more than six in ten respondents disapprove of the way that the government is handling the current currency and inflation situation. In addition, 70 percent see the media as “biased and untruthful.”

The survey also found that Turks are deeply ambivalent about EU membership, with a striking 78 percent stating that EU governments do not want Turkey to join. A vast majority believe that the current relationship between Turkey and the EU is “poor” or merely “okay,” a situation for which they blame the EU and its Member States.

Regarding for relations with NATO and Russian Federation, a majority continues to favor strong relations with NATO, but an almost equal number call for an alliance with Russian Federation.
According to CAP National Security, this is a broad confusion among Turks on security alliances: 55% want Turkey to remain in NATO. But at the same time 57% want the country to build a lasting alliance with Russia.

‘I am not sure this is confusion, actually. To me it suggests a realistic assessment of Turkey’s position in the world and the security challenges Ankara confronts. Analysts want to declare Turkey either East or West, but it seems clear Turks don’t see it that way.’ Steven Cook, an expert on Turkish politics stated in his tweet.

Additionally, the results demonstrate significant concern regarding the presence of Syrian refugees in Turkey and diverging opinions as to the success of the government’s recent policies on Syria. A majority believes that returning Syrian refugees to their home country should be the main focus of Turkish policy.

Overall, the comprehensive survey paints a picture of a population that is deeply divided on the country’s current leadership, economic situation, and relations with the West and Russia. Although Erdogan and the AKP-MHP coalition enjoy a commanding lead in the polls, the results are far from certain. In the authors’ view, should the AKP-MHP coalition fail to achieve a parliamentary majority on June 24 and Erdogan face a second round of elections, his position could be challenged by the opposition.

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Aydogan Vatandas / Editor-in-Chief
Aydogan Vatandas / Editor-in-Chief
Aydoğan Vatandaş is an investigative journalist from Turkey, specializing in Political Science and International Relations. He is the author of 13 books, many of which have become bestsellers in Turkey. 'Reporting from the Bridge' and 'Hungry for Power: Erdogan's Witch Hunt and The Abuse of State Power' are the first two books published in English in the U.S

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