Given that local, presidential and parliamentary elections are slated for 2019, it will be a year of elections for Turkey.
However, these elections matter more than previous ones due to the new executive presidential system accepted in the April 16, 2017 referendum.
This is because the executive role of the president, who had a symbolic role even though he was elected by the popular vote in the last election in the previous system, will increase. Therefore, the structure and function of Parliament that will be shaped by the elections will become more vital, especially for the opposition.
What is the situation before this big contest takes place in 2019?
Let us start by announcing the development that left its mark this week. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the third-largest party in Parliament, announced that it would support President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the 2019 elections. This support will significantly boost support for Erdoğan in the eyes of nationalist voters who are not already far from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
Devlet Bahçeli, the chairman of the MHP, which has a long-established nationalist past, attributed his decision to the atmosphere that emerged after the July 15 coup attempt, saying that political concerns have been pushed to the background.
It is very likely that the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) will take part in the first round of the 2019 elections with their own candidate. They will probably support the highest voted candidate in the second round.
However, the CHP, which has a left-wing, social democratic electorate, presented a right-wing candidate against Erdoğan in the 2014 presidential elections and sorely lost, which is still a fresh memory. Therefore, it seems unlikely that the electorate will be persuaded by the same mistake again.
This is because if the CHP's candidate cannot receive the desired vote rate in the second round, Meral Akşener, a nationalist politician, would advance to the second round. So, the İYİ Party (Good Party), headed by Akşener, who served as interior minister in a period of thousands of unsolved murders mainly targeting leftists and Kurds, might not attract the leftist electorate. Moreover, there are constant allegations that Akşener has good and intimate relations with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) led by Fetullah Gülen.
It is not expected that the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which has a group in Parliament, will pursue a different tactic from the CHP. However, the party base, mainly consisting of Kurds, which is the legal wing of the PKK terrorist organization, supported Erdoğan in some previous elections and referendums. Although Erdoğan has recently courted at the nationalist electorate, he proved that he has not an ethnic, but a universal perspective, with the reconciliation process that he initiated earlier.
Even if Kurds think Erdoğan is making a mistake, they will not vote for candidates with whom they have controversy for historical and ideological reasons. In the worst case scenario, they will not go to the polls, as they have always done when they react to the AK Party and Erdoğan.
To sum up, Erdoğan is now luckier for the 2019 elections, as he proved that he is the only candidate to receive support from all segments of the country, receiving 51.4 percent of the vote just several months ago in the constitutional referendum.
Looking at the latest picture of Turkish political chess above, it is easier to understand why Erdoğan's rivals, both inside and outside the country, who failed to prevail over him in the elections, often take risks as on July 15.Fortunately, Turks are more enthusiastic about chess now more than ever.
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