As Turkey turns its attention to the upcoming June 24 snap elections that were announced two weeks ago, it is rather unusual that the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), after calling for early elections for months, is yet to present its candidate.
The CHP after leading the "No" front in the April 16 referendum last year had said it would present a joint candidate but not announce the name immediately in order to preserve the surprise effect. Almost a year has passed since, but the party is yet to come up with a name.
Even former President Abdullah Gül's name was among its likely joint candidates. However, it did not happen since it the CHP could not reach an agreement with Gül.
Those observing Turkish politics from the outside might not find Gül's joint candidacy peculiar, but it has actually marked a great inconsistency in the collective memory of the country.
In 2007, when the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan presented Gül as their presidential candidate, the CHP objected on the grounds that Gül shared a conservative background and his wife wears a headscarf. It then hindered Gül's election in Parliament by cooperating with then Chief of General Staff and other judicial bodies.
The Supreme Court ruled that 367 deputies should be present and participate in the election. So, Gül could not be elected since the quorum requirements were not met. The General Staff also issued a memorandum-like statement objecting to the presidential candidate of a democratically elected government.
Even at that time, the military and the judicial bureaucracy were the virtual rulers of Turkey. And for the first time in Turkey, the AK Party government decided to hold early elections by resisting the military, enabled Gül's election by receiving 46 percent votes in the polls and eventually conducted a referendum on constitutional amendments that has led to the many developments achieved so far while paving the way for the people to directly elect their president.
The CHP objected to Gül's candidacy only because of his religious, conservative profile and sided with the tutelage powers to that end. During that period, the military and the CHP members organized rallies across the country and attempted to declare the presidential elections illegitimate. Subsequently, a closure case was filed against the AK Party, which the party narrowly escaped.
After a decade, some signs suggested that Gül might run for president as a joint candidate of a party that once revoked his right to stand for election. Meral Akşener, the chairwoman of the newly-founded Good Party (İP), objected to this formula since she also wished to run for the presidency, and the former project eventually collapsed, causing Gül to detach completely from the AK Party.
For the conservative base, what happened is emotionally laden. Thanks to the AK Party and Erdoğan, this segment of the society was liberated from the state mindset treating them as second-class citizens. It still indisputably regards Erdoğan as their leader and does not want to see the return of the old conditions.
Although they occasionally criticize the AK Party administration and the president, they think that the old tutelage forces will dominate the country again if Erdoğan leaves his seat, and therefore feel that Gül has betrayed them.
I believe that these developments will consolidate the AK Party base in the run-up to the June 24 elections. Conservative people and the Kurds comprise around 65 percent of Turkey's population, and a considerable part of them will want to avoid the past.
The other 35 percent, which consists of people categorically against Erdoğan, wrongly assume that the 15 percent within from the 65 percent, who occasionally criticize Erdoğan and the AK Party government is against Erdoğan by all means.
They will see after the elections that this is not the case. The early elections will once again display the dynamics of the Turkish people and the presence of a distinct sociological structure which is actually very different from the country's outside image.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.