A recent MetroPOLL survey shows that the AK Party is most likely to win for a third time with 48 percent of the vote. If this happens, it will be the first time since the 1950s that a political party will have won three consecutive elections.
The poll indicates that Turkey’s opposition parties continue to fail to attract people’s confidence and vote. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) is expected to get 27 percent and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is at the threshold with 11 percent. The trend in the last few months is that the AK Party is slightly up, while the CHP and MHP face drops of around four points each.
Certainly such a situation before the June elections is a success for the AK Party after nine years in office. However, it is also a failure of the opposition to come up with the right strategies, policies and leadership. Because the center of opposition to the AK Party for the past nine years has been the military, the judiciary and the media, the opposition parties seem to have left their jobs up to these actors, who capitalized on the weakness of the parties and filled the gap, destroying the potency of civilian/political opposition.
The result is the opposition parties’ inability to rally the people, 69 percent of whom said that there is currently no “strong and effective opposition” to the AK Party. This makes it crystal clear that the opposition does not pose a viable alternative as it fails in gaining the confidence of the people to the scale required to topple the ruling party. Just think of this example: two opposition parties, the CHP and MHP, have committed themselves to naming Ergenekon suspects as candidates in the upcoming elections. Yes, they committed themselves without knowing how the people would react to such a controversial issue. If not calculated well, such a critical and controversial step could be deadly for any political party. On this, the MetroPOLL survey shows that 64 percent of the people oppose Ergenekon suspects being nominated in elections. Likewise, 64 percent of MHP voters and 45 percent of CHP voters oppose the idea. This is just one example of the opposition’s suicidal policies.
Another problem is that the main opposition party, the CHP, is still preoccupied with the internal rivalry for power, forgetting to focus its efforts on gaining governmental power by winning elections. I think they are busy trying to reach advantageous positions for the day after the party loses the elections, so they can attempt to remove Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu from leadership. The latest news about CHP deputies collaborating with journalists to finish off Deniz Baykal, deputy leader Gürsel Tekin’s remarks about him and preventing social democrat politician Fikri Sağlar from returning to the party all have to do with the CHP’s internal strife, which will break out after the elections.
Those who believe that Kılıçdaroğlu can bring the CHP to power comprise only 19 percent of those polled, a number that was much higher just a few months earlier. On the trust scale for politicians, Kılıçdaroğlu got 16 percent, while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has 44 percent of the people’s trust. It is pretty obvious that Kılıçdaroğlu’s public rating is as low as Baykal, his former leader.
Despite these figures, some journalists continue to talk about the rise of the CHP. Well, they can do whatever they like, just as they did four years ago, but misguiding the CHP is not good for the party itself. My concern is that raised expectations might cause a great psychological setback in the aftermath of the elections. I think the CHP voters cannot stand another disappointment. The shock after the election might shake the CHP voters’ belief in democracy and electoral politics, leading them to search for undemocratic alternatives.
The MHP has no better prospect in the elections. It stands on the edge of a knife regarding the 10 percent national threshold. Its future depends on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) decision on a ceasefire and the Peace and Unity Party’s (BDP) election campaign style. The PKK and BDP’s choosing violence may save the MHP and push it to reach 10 percent of the vote. If, however, it fails then current leader Devlet Bahçeli cannot keep his position in the party, clearing the path for more radical elements, close to the so-called “deep state,” which have been recently incorporated into the party. This is how Turkish politics look at the beginning of the race for the June elections. From this picture one can say that not much will change after the elections and this will continue until the opposition learns from their defeats.