As the president of the GENAR Research Institute, I always encounter the same question whenever Turkey enters an electoral process – what are the electoral potentialities of competing political parties in the upcoming elections? In order to address the question, it is necessary to lay bare the conditions in which parties enter the electoral process, their prospective performance until June 24 and the future of the electoral balance of power.
Although the electoral alliance between the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) won the constitutional referendum in 2017, the opposition bloc received more votes than most research institutes expected. Consequently, the opposition bloc in general, and the Republican People's Party (CHP) in particular, has become hopeful to achieve an electoral triumph in the upcoming presidential election.
Aimed at drastically changing the established governmental system, the constitutional referendum of 2017 was a tough challenge for those supporting it. The conservative electorate especially seemed to have serious difficulty in accepting such a comprehensive change. Therefore, the referendum only received only 51.8 percent of the vote even though the votes that the AK Party and MHP received in the previous elections add up to more than 60 percent. In a similar vein, we found out in a study conducted 10 days after the referendum that the AK Party's votes were around 49 percent or 50 percent of the electorate.
Today, the AK Party seems to have preserved the votes it received in the Nov. 1, 2015 elections, while the sum of the votes of the ruling party and MHP together is 60 elections. Surprisingly, the main opposition CHP seems to have lost votes to such an extent that the electoral success of party Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu falls below that of former Chairman Deniz Baykal.
On the other hand, no political party wants to form an electoral alliance with the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). Overshadowed by the PKK and having strayed from the path of becoming a legitimate party, the HDP cannot come up with any concrete policy or vision for the country as a whole. It is not yet certain whether the İYİ Party (Good Party) will be allowed to enter into the early elections on June 24. Still, Chairwoman Meral Akşener announced that she will collect 100,000 signatures and run for president.
For the upcoming presidential election, the choice of the conservative and nationalist electorate of the AK Party and MHP will be decisive. As is well known, the AK Party's votes rise whenever President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan enters elections as the head of the party. In addition, 80 percent of the MHP's electorate and 90 percent of the AK Party's electorate support the People's Alliance established between these two parties. Thus, as opposed to assertions from the CHP, Erdoğan's presidential candidacy is supported to a large extent by conservative and nationalist voters.
For the opposition bloc, the picture seems to be much more complex. First of all, opposition parties have to decide whether they will enter the elections with only one candidate or not. Moreover, these parties' voters have to embrace the given candidate in the short period of time until the election. It is understood that opposition political parties will enter the first round of the election with their own candidates and aim at take votes from the AK Party and the MHP's alliance.
Thus, the presidential competition will be between two rival blocs. While the first bloc, whose votes currently fluctuate between 49 percent and 60 percent, will aim at not losing votes to the second bloc, whose votes remain at around 40 percent. Thus, the challenge of the opposition bloc seems to be much more challenging in that it will have to try to gain more votes.
The electoral process has not yet begun, though. After the presidential candidates are announced, we can make better analyses by relying on new studies. Since Erdoğan is involved, many countries concern themselves with Turkey's elections with good or bad intentions. Since there are only two months left before elections, foreign powers will have no chances to substantially intervene in the electoral process.