What will be the distinguishing features of the 2015 general election in Turkey? The event will mark the end of a trilogy of elections that began with local races on March 30, 2014. This, of course, seems only relevant to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) since opposition parties had declared the upcoming election's outcome when they decided to reduce their platforms to second-hand materials from the Gülen Movement's ill-fated attempt to overthrow the government.
The March 30 local elections, which effectively represented the first round of the 2015 presidential race, produced the first signs as the opposition's heavy defeat in municipal races rendered the presidential election completely meaningless for them. It was probably therefore that opposition leaders opted to sit the presidential race out. The nightmare, however, continues. Having started the countdown through the Gezi Park protests in May 2013, the opposition now watches time fly by with the general election fast approaching.
The Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will pay a heavy price in next year's election for having failed to field their own champions in the 2014 presidential race. Considering that their leaders have already consumed all leftovers in their two most recent campaigns and, on top of it all, launched a joint presidential campaign in August 2014, their demise will be impossible to miss. For the first time since the Dec. 17 operation, the people will have the opportunity to respond to the coalition between CHP and MHP leaders in a parliamentary election.
It is, of course, no secret that the two parties, that did not exactly do a great job in the presidential race, do not need to hold their breath. During the first two episodes of the electoral trilogy, the alliance not only caused the MHP to suffer major losses but also forced the nationalists to camouflage the CHP's complete failure. In most high-volatility districts, the CHP exploited its majority stake in the partnership to funnel votes out of the nationalist camp. At the same time, the Republican-Nationalist alliance effectively marked the expansion of the CHP's fragmented composition into a multi-party bloc. In 2015, both parties will have to enter the parliamentary election against the backdrop of increasingly obsolete internal and external alliances.
The opposition parties had to enter the most recent parliamentary election before they could recover from the heavy defeat they suffered in the 2010 constitutional referendum. In 2015, they will have to compete for seats less than a year after a brutal presidential race. In next year's general election, opposition parties will experience the downsides of having commissioned a proxy candidate in August 2014. CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli - whose electoral performance currently stand at, respectively, 0-4 and 0-10 - will have to show voters that they mean business. After all, they have to overcome the crisis of authenticity stemming from siding with the Gülen Movement in the local elections and the use of proxies in the presidential race. The AK Party, in turn, could possibly consolidate its position as a dominant party if it wins the 2015 election. The intersection of these two trends would obviously mean the beginning of a new era.
The probable outcome of the 2015 election will establish the AK Party as a dominant party and further limit the reach of opposition parties into particular political, social and geographical niches. Furthermore, the ruling party will enter the race under new management and with an almost entirely new administrative elite. In any other country, of course, one would expect the opposition leadership to experience comprehensive change. The 2015 election will reveal deeply repressed, painful truths.