In all of the elections held so far in Turkey, political parties talk of the primary significance of the upcoming elections that occupy - it is argued without exception - the most influential status in comparison to its predecessor. Such a claim is in fact not at all unjustified, as these elections are crucial not only for pro-status quo forces in the preservation of certain elements of the system, but also for reformist forces in the process of democratization and normalization of the state and society.
In June 2011, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) reconsolidated its political power by receiving 49.9 percent of the vote, while the electoral success of the major opposition political parties were the Republican People's Party (CHP) at 25.9 percent, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) with 12.9 percent and the Peoples' Democracy Party (HDP) with 6.9 percent. Four years after that last election, according to research conducted by GENAR with the participation of 5,200 people in February 2015, it seems that no substantial change will occur in the distribution of votes over the aforementioned political parties apart from minor changes in the fractions with the AK Party at 47.7 percent, CHP at 25.1 percent, MHP at 13.4 percent and HDP at 8.9 percent. According to this scheme of research, a four-year political process with numerous controversies and anti-democratic attempts for a "civilian coup" could have changed only the fractions of the political spectrum. We can therefore easily conclude that nothing can appear on the horizon that is capable of dramatically changing that political spectrum in the remaining days until the elections in June.
If we take the elections from the view of the opposition parties, the following considerations come to the head of our discussion:
- Opposition parties never troubled themselves with developing sound alternative policies against those of the ruling party. On the contrary, they concentrated their entire energy preventing the working of political power first by instigating a military intervention and then by counteracting through the judicial system.
They almost always endeavored to represent the ruling party as an anti-system, illegitimate political force.
Their electoral campaigns have constantly revolved around blaming the political power through the emergence of security issues.
Against the successes of the political power in the fields of education, health, transportation, economy and social welfare, the opposition political parties confined themselves to familiar defamatory campaigns instead of developing alternative policies.
Finally, the desperateness of the CHP's opposition led it to engage in alliances with anti-Turkish forces in the international arena.
It is, therefore, manifest that it is almost impossible for the two main opposition parties, in which any serious attempt to develop sound alternative polices is obviously lacking, to substantially influence the present political power.
The major controversies of the upcoming elections would certainly occur around the hot topics of the resolution of the Kurdish question and the presidential system as its correlative topic.
To situate discussions of the Kurdish question and the presidential system on salutary grounds, the making of a new and substantially democratic constitution is a must. In the aforementioned research conducted by GENAR in February 2015, 70 percent of the interviewees sincerely support the making of a new constitution. In fact, while all political parties mutually complain about the present constitution for being the poisonous fruit of the 1980 coup, none have so far satisfied people's expectations for its renovation.
In conclusion, it seems that in the upcoming elections we will discuss not only the Kurdish reconciliation process, the introduction of a presidential system and the related making of a new constitution, but also that the political spectrum will not substantially change, except in the fractions, that the two major oppositional political parties will make no headway whatsoever and whether or not the HDP will accomplish passing the 10 percent electoral threshold.
About the author
İhsan Aktaş is Chairman of the Board of GENAR Research Company. He is an academic at the Department of Communication at Istanbul Medipol University.