Presidential 'race' becoming a no contest

Published 09.07.2014 00:27

On the one side you have Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a charismatic master orator who, on his own, has won the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) 50 percent of the votes in parliamentary elections and continues to draw massive crowds at his rallies. On the other hand you have Professor Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, a former academic and bureaucrat who is a soft spoken person with no political experience and avoids political rallies and prefers to run a campaign by visiting various professional groups and still insists the president, who is elected by the popular vote, should be above politics.

On the one side you have Erdoğan who makes news with every word he utters and on the other side you have İhsanoğlu who has to rely on the mass circulation newspapers and TV stations who are opposed to Erdoğan to gain a wider audience.

On the one side you have a perfectly functioning political machine like the AK Party that provides all kinds of support for Erdoğan and thus continues to strengthen him in the presidential race and on the other you have a front created by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and conservative opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) who really do not have a proper strategy and whose only aim is to try to prevent Erdoğan from winning. This front hardly provides any kind of meaningful support to İhsanoğlu to enhance his position in the presidential race and help him win.

Erdoğan tells the nation he will be an active president involved in the running of the country while İhsanoğlu says he will be a head of state who simply defends democratic values, rights, freedoms and the constitutional rule thus acting as an honest arbitrator. İhsanoğlu seems to suggest that the president will continue to be the same old president who was installed at the presidential palace to serve the military and other power centers in Turkey and dictate their will on the government as was the case over the past four decades. İhsanoğlu is wrong. The president who is elected by the people will fully represent the will of the people and thus will be stronger than the so-called power centers in Turkey who still want to steer the country now that the military has been pacified and is not involved in politics.

Erdoğan presents a vision for the future to build the "new Turkey" while İhsanoğlu is still lost in history trying to preserve the values of the old Turkey and thus the status quo.

Selahattin Demirtaş, the presidential candidate of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party, has impressed quite a few people with his speeches and some CHP members. People who would normally vote for İhsanoğlu may opt for him instead. It seems even Demirtaş would have been a better joint candidate for the CHP and MHP than İhsanoğlu.

The race, if you can call it a race, has been rather lopsided up to now. Erdoğan is playing the game on his own while the others look on. Thus it will be no surprise to see who the winner will be and who will lead Turkey as president.

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