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INDEX – Abroad – The Turkish opposition has teamed up on the Hungarian model to give itself a chance against Erdogan

INDEX – Abroad – The Turkish opposition has teamed up on the Hungarian model to give itself a chance against Erdogan

The six Turkish opposition parties announced earlier that they would run in this year’s presidential elections in May in order to maximize their chances against Erdogan and his government, the coalition of the Justice and Development Party and the Nationalist Movement Party, which, according to its critics, is building an illiberal coalition. and authoritarian regime.

On Monday evening, the opposition parties presented their joint candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

Kilicdaroglu, a former bureaucrat who has held a parliamentary mandate since 2002, is the leader of the largest opposition party, the Kemalist Social Democratic People’s Party (CHP), founded by Kemal Atatürk, and eventually the leader of the united opposition from the most powerful party.

The opposition, calling itself the “Schedule of Six”, reiterated its 12 points at the same time as the press conference, most of which had been formulated in a declaration the previous February. The most important point about it is that it will return from the current presidential system (in which the president has the final say in everything) to a stronger parliamentary system.

They also demand that the threshold for entering parliament be lowered from the current 10 percent to 3 percent, that parties with at least 1 percent in elections be entitled to state support, they want the president’s veto power to be abolished, and the institution introduced. Constructive vote of no confidence – that is, parliament can replace any member of the government, if the majority of deputies vote in this way.

Colored opposition coalition

“Our table is the table of peace. Our only goal is to bring the country to days of prosperity, peace and joy, but at the same time, the 74-year-old politician did not undertake an easy task,” Kilicdaroglu said at the campaign event held at the time of the announcement.

In addition, the second largest opposition party, the far-right Iyi Parti (Good Party), was last week. It seemscovers the coalition and withdraws from the coalition because the former bureaucrat Kilicdaroglu was nominated as a joint candidate – in the end they only withdrew because they nominated two vice-presidents: Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who is currently in pretrial detention, and fellow Ankara Mansur Yavas.

However, it will not only be difficult for him to unite this broad coalition, but it does not promise an easy task to carry out the election campaign: although Kilicdaroglu has led his party since 2010, they have not had much interest. Opportunity against Erdogan Because of the February earthquake that killed more than 45,000 people, the opposition was not well placed ahead of the elections.

Nicolette Benzwaldi, a Turkey scholar and head of research at the Institute for Migration, believes that the most likely presidential candidate is primarily the head of the CHP, although, as he puts it, “not necessarily because he would be the most popular and charismatic candidate among voters or a challenger.” Most likely for Erdogan. However, he believes

In the eyes of the opposition, Kilicdaroglu is a relatively reliable presidential candidate who can credibly lead the promised democratic transition.

– He said and then added: The two aforementioned vice-presidential candidates, Imamoglu and Yavas, will pose a greater challenge to Erdogan.

On why the election fell on him, Penzalo answered, partly because of Kilicdaroglu’s personality, stressing that the leader of the CHP is not strong enough to establish himself in the current presidential system, which the coalition wants to delete.

At the same time, it is a fact that you have to get to this point – it is not enough to be a good president, if you are not a good presidential candidate, i.e. you cannot win the election

– confirmed the Turkey expert. He said that Kilicdaroglu comes from a Kurdish-majority region and belongs to the Alevi religious minority, which may bring him additional votes on one side, but it is unlikely that he will be able to attract conservative Sunni voters or nationalists belonging to the Erdogan camp. .

He sees if the presidential candidate will be able to maintain the very heterogeneous six-person schedule:

This is a difficult task, if only because only the anti-Erdogan people bring it together.

Because of this, Benzaldi is not convinced that “this will really be a stable long-term formation.” Regarding the party’s temporary exit, he believes that the party’s decision and the current opposition games really revolve around post-election positions, which will have an impact on a possible change of government.

Choice in an authoritarian regime

As for the chances of Hatuk Asztala, who now has a presidential candidate, Penzalo said it is still difficult to predict the outcome of the election.

At the same time, according to the expert, it is certainly a great achievement that the opposition was able to nominate a joint presidential candidate,

Although, he added, this is “not enough.”

This is because the OSCE has long considered Turkish elections to be neither fair nor clean: it wrote about the last early presidential and parliamentary elections held on June 24, 2018. in their final report They stated the same way that voters can choose between real options, but immediately stated:

Erdogan and his party enjoyed a major advantage in the campaign.

Among other things, the public media has fully functioned as propaganda for the AKP, just as the majority of Turkish media has also been concentrated in the hands of the government. In addition, because a state of emergency was still in place at the time of the elections after the 2016 coup attempt, for example, freedom of assembly and expression were restricted, although, as the report notes, civilians were still relatively active.

In addition, the report notes that the opposition campaign has been subjected to numerous attacks and its events are often disrupted, which mostly affected the left-wing People’s Democratic Party, which deals with the rights of the Kurdish minority – their candidate Selahattin Demirtas, for example, was arrested even before elections because, according to the accusation, he may have participated in the 2016 coup attempt, which he denies. This is how Demirtas “fighted” his “campaign” from prison, which amounted to 8.4 percent.

The opposition is now trying to achieve success under these conditions.

(Cover photo: Kemal Kilicdaroglu speaking to the press on March 6, 2023. Photo: Cagala Gordogan/Reuters)