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Navigating Political Dependencies: Assessing Erdogan’s Dilemma with Bahceli!

Levent Kenez*


Everyone’s estimate is that a change in leadership is unlikely without a political rupture or an unavoidable economic crisis. Therefore, the direction of the tension between MHP-AKP and its implications for the country’s fate is under consideration.

The possibility of a regime change at the polls was missed in May. On paper, Erdogan is set to remain in power for another five years after the recent election. However, there is an indication in Erdogan’s plans, where he opens the discussion of 50+1, that the country will go to early elections when the time comes; it’s already inevitable.

As a result, the country is once again immersed in discussions of elections and alliances without seriously addressing any of its problems.

The Supreme Election Council (YSK) confirmed this period as Erdogan’s second term in the last election, and for Erdogan to run again, the Parliament needs to make a decision for elections. When the Parliament makes a decision for elections, it is considered that the president’s term has not been completed. Now, you might say, “Who cares about the law or the constitution!”

It’s not quite like that. Either the constitution needs to be changed, or the Parliament needs to decide on elections.

Assuming that no one would say ‘I’m not here’ when it comes to elections, even if we assume that the Cumhur Alliance, which has not currently dissolved in Parliament, does not have 360 votes, it is highly likely that a decision for elections will be made.

If the plan is for the Parliament to decide on elections shortly before the end of five years, the opposition might say, “He’s been in power for 27 years, let him govern a few more months. Let the elections be held on time.” Therefore, this matter should not be left to the last minute. Moreover, it is a known fact that deputies who feel they will not be nominated again have obstructed early elections in previous years.

Another solution for Erdogan is a constitutional amendment with an additional clause allowing him to be elected president for the first time under the new system.

In any case, the serious consideration of Erdogan severing ties with the MHP does not fit into the current picture. It is evident that the Good Party (İYİ Party), which is considered as a replacement for the MHP, will diminish as it gets closer to Erdogan. If İYİ Party voters were to vote for Erdogan, they would have already voted for the MHP.

According to polls, the second party for İYİ Party voters is the CHP (Republican People’s Party). The reason for not choosing the MHP is that the voters are anti-Erdogan. While there is a realistic aspect to the party leadership saying, “We cannot grow on the right as long as we are close to the CHP,” it does not mean that their current voters will approve any alliance. In fact, if they nominate candidates, the votes İYİ Party receives in Istanbul and Ankara will be a test for this.

In other words, İYİ Party is not a strong and robust branch that Erdogan can hold onto. Under the control of MHP leader Bahçeli, there is a much larger bloc of votes. In a place where alliances are made even for 1% of the vote, breaking ties with a 10% bloc poses a significant risk.

For Erdogan to convince HDP (People’s Democratic Party) voters, he needs to take substantial steps rather than just making promises. This can create difficulties both at the ballot box and in the bureaucracy.

For Bahçeli, who, like Erdogan, has made many U-turns in the past, it is easy to sever ties. Finding an excuse and saying, “Erdogan has lost his national qualification for us!” can end the partnership. Just look at his Tuesday speech! However, it is not very likely to think that the MHP, which benefits from being in power without breaking a sweat, would want the alliance to end.

The significance of the ‘Sinan Ateş’ murder, mentioned as a major card in Erdogan’s hand, is well known. Similarly, the meaning of Bahçeli saying, “We will not prosecute the ‘Three Crescent,’ settle this matter with the dealers,” is not clear.

I don’t think Erdogan can discipline the MHP with the Sinan Ateş murder as claimed. If there is a file that could extend to the top management, like claimed, the MHP’s intifada, similar to “We will burn this planet!” could be much more costly for Erdogan.

Erdogan’s need for the MHP is not decreasing, on the contrary, it is increasing in a place where the opposition is so scattered. It is both true and false that there will be no regime change in Turkey through elections. The reason for the probable crises to be experienced lies in the fractures within alliances and their aftershocks.

And, of course, Erdogan’s health is also crucial in his demand for an electoral system. From businessmen to the servant in the palace, everyone has the question in their minds that Erdogan must answer before he dies. Family members constantly see Bilal and Selçuk somewhere, talking to someone, and the reason we see them receiving awards is related to this.

It is somewhat related to the person with the most votes being elected president. However, even this change alone may not be sufficient for members of the dynasty.

What bothers Erdogan is not Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu leaving. After all, Kılıçdaroğlu couldn’t run against him once again. But the existence and increasing influence of İmamoğlu cause discomfort. He needs to reclaim the metropolis in the Istanbul elections and diminish İmamoğlu’s charisma. If that fails, the judicial stick is still on the table…”

*Levent Kenez is journalist, political commentator and a columnist at TR724.com.

This article was originally published at TR724.com and translated into English by Politurco.

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