Turkey is counting down to June 24 for early elections, which will have quite different dynamics from the previous ones because it will mark the beginning of a presidential system. The executive and legislative bodies will be separated following the upcoming elections.
There will be two ballot boxes: the electorate will vote for Parliament on one ballot and the president on another. Both are of vital importance. Six candidates are running for president: the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the National Movement Party's (MHP) joint candidate Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Republican People's Party's (CHP) Muharrem İnce, the Good Party's (İP) Meral Akşener, the Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş, the Felicity Party's (SP) Temel Karamollaoğlu and the Patriotic Party's (VP) Doğu Perinçek.
Polls conducted so far show Erdoğan is ahead by a landslide and will secure around 50 percent of the vote share. If the polls are right, it will mark a first in the Turkish Republic's history that a leader of a party that is in power for the past 16 years has increased his vote share instead of facing declining support.
Currently, he also has the support of the nationalist and conservative MHP along with his own base. Meanwhile, the other candidates are holding a whole slew of campaigns and rallies. For now, none of them seem to have a chance against Erdoğan but they aim to set the grounds for the second round and win against Erdoğan by forming an alliance. In brief, a democratic and highly competitive election race is ongoing.
The competition is fierce in the parliamentary elections as well. The excitement and discussions stirred with the announcement of deputy candidate lists have even overshadowed the presidential race. Erdoğan has an undeniable advantage in the presidential elections but it is harder to predict the results of the parliamentary elections.
What will be the AK Party's vote share? Will the HDP exceed the election threshold? Also, the CHP, İYİ Party and the SP have formed the Nation Alliance despite the fact that they address very different social strata. Will this alliance bring extra votes to them? Or will they suffer a fall in their vote shares?
The answers to all these questions offer clues regarding the structure of the government in the following period. We do not yet know whether the new system would be hampered if the AK Party-MHP bloc, namely the People's Alliance, does not receive the majority of votes or whether there will be a showdown between executive and legislative bodies. But we are certain that the AK Party has submitted a very strong candidate list with an aim to discard such possibilities and hold the majority in the ballots.
Energy Minister Berat Albayrak and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu are both leading the list of candidates in two of Istanbul's electoral districts whereas Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya come right in the lists. These strong names indicate that the party wants to surpass the results obtained in the April 16 referendum. Also, Environment and Urbanization Minister Mehmet Özhaseki, who served as metropolitan mayor for years in Kayseri province and has become a prominent figure there, was shown as a candidate from his own province as part of the party's strategy to increase votes.
The AK Party has so far been the most hardworking political party in electoral periods without being inured to its achievements. The recently announced lists also show that the party is attaching great importance to the streets and working for the parliamentary elections with full effort.