Meral Akşener, the leader of the Good Party (İYİ Parti), disappointed many opposition supporters eager for a “historic” manifesto when she laid out her party’s roadmap in a speech on August 26. While it’s speculated that Akşener made this speech to increase her bargaining power in local elections, her criticism of opposition figures like CHP’s Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, İstanbul’s Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, and Ankara’s Mayor Mansur Yavaş left those wanting change from the ruling AKP government disheartened.
“We Won’t Ally with Any Party” Meral Akşener stated regarding local election alliances, “Let’s each run in separate elections. We won’t ally with any party in any city or district.” She also had strong words about İmamoğlu and Yavaş: “I apologize for not being able to stop those who blocked their path. I’m sorry. When they were about to be hindered, I rushed to help them and stood by their side. But I couldn’t stop those who pulled them down. I apologize. I thought that these two friends of ours, who bear the hopes of our people and responded to this historic call, would listen. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I apologize for not being able to put the fireproof jackets on them.”
“We Only Have Two General Managers in Istanbul!” In an unusual twist, Akşener’s speech included a surprising lamentation that baffled listeners. She stated, “By the way, in Istanbul, we only have two general managers. We don’t have anything else, just so you know. One is the general manager of Ağaç A.Ş., and the other is the general manager of Güvenlik A.Ş., both from the İYİ Party. Everything and everyone else belongs to someone else. Hopefully, they belong to the people of Istanbul.” While Akşener frequently criticizes Erdoğan’s regime for appointments based on loyalty rather than competence, her complaint that “we only have two general managers” strikes a blow at the principles of honesty and competence.
Erdoğan and Bahçeli are Rubbing Their Hands After Akşener’s speech, İYİ Party Izmir MP Ümit Özlale stated on Halk TV that İmamoğlu and Yavaş are now “the candidates of the CHP; they are no longer our mayors.” After Akşener’s words, it’s certain that Erdoğan and Bahçeli are pleased. Following this move, Erdoğan will likely have an easier time winning Istanbul and Ankara. He will take his May 14 victory to the local administrations.
Akşener Misses a Historic Opportunity After the presidential and general elections, Akşener had fallen into deep silence. A significant debate had begun in the CHP regarding its leadership, while other opposition parties had settled into a state of contentment with their “wins.” The Erdoğan regime had been projecting the economic crisis it had pushed aside onto a struggling population. However, it was comfortably finding itself without any opposition, even a single word of it. Akşener had been presented with a historic opportunity. By displaying strong leadership, she could have won the support of CHP and other opposition party voters, helping to unmask Erdoğan in the eyes of the people.
For the Sake of Bargaining Power? However, it didn’t happen. Akşener, instead of demonstrating strong leadership, showed no sign of leadership whatsoever. She missed a historic opportunity. Together with the CHP, she abandoned opposition supporters to the whims of the Erdoğan regime’s manipulative tactics. Whether these words were purely for increasing bargaining power or not, Akşener is now potentially leading herself and her party into a self-destructive path. Regardless of her intentions, it’s a fact that she has further depleted the last remaining traces of morale among opposition supporters. Her recent statements have given jubilation to pro-government columnists, just as her earlier forceful speech did. If she wants to see how her speech affected people, she need only look at the loyalists who are celebrating her words.
*Ersoy Celik is a journalist specializing in Turkish politics.
This article originally was published in Bold Media and translated into English by Politurco.