With just three months until the presidential elections, an asymmetrical balance is arising.
On the one hand, there is the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) that has ruled the country for 12 years without losing its influence and popularity as well as its potential presidential candidate. On the other side, the opposition parties are hamstrung by their fragmented structure.
The AK Party has the advantage of appealing to nearly half of the electorate as well as having a charismatic leader in Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is indisputably popular in much of society. So far, all the indications point to the current prime minister running as the AK Party's presidential candidate.
The asymmetry begins here. The opposition parties do not have a well-admired leader that appeals to large sections of society and embraces them. They should not confine themselves to just paying attention to the west of the country, but should open their arms to the eastern, southern and northern parts as well. In order to fill this gap, the opposition has to appeal to the other 50 percent and present a common candidate that can challenge Erdoğan.
The leaders of the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have decided that they will not run as candidates. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Devlet Bahçeli will not stand against Erdoğan in the presidential elections because if they suffer a poll defeat, they will have to give up their chairmanships. They do not want to jeopardize the chairmanship; thus, they are expected to offer different candidates.
Neither the CHP nor the MHP have resolved the issue on whether they will present their own individual candidates or decide on a common candidate. Their statements reveal that they are holding critical negotiations behind closed doors.
Kılıçdaroğlu explained they could negotiate with the MHP on the issue. High-level executives of the CHP suggest that if there is to be a coalition between the CHP and the MHP, it should favor the former. These are the present expectations in the lobbies. But the CHP does not openly verbalize it because it doesn't want to discourage the MHP and a potential alliance.
The MHP isn't against the idea of forming a coalition with the CHP either. The evidence is in Bahçeli's explanations. The MHP leader put forward the idea of an "allembracing candidate." This proposal, which prioritizes a compromise different tendencies, is interpreted as the opposition parties settling on a single common candidate. However, like the CHP, Bahçeli also wants this coalition to favor the MHP's candidate.
If both parties cannot take a concrete step in determining a common candidate, the MHP may announce its own candidate within a week.
This is a negotiation process. Neither party wants to reveal itself or be attached to one another. That is why they are contemplating their own candidates as well as pursuing the possibility of a common candidate.
Kılıçdaroğlu described the CHP's ideal candidate's profile as "democratic, peaceful and liberal. He should know the balances of the world and should not let polarization into society."
As far as Bahçeli's statements are concerned, the MHP's candidate will have several characteristics in common with that of the CHP's. Bahçeli said, "64 percent of Turkey are conservative rightists, and the remaining 36 percent are democratic leftists. Therefore, a presidential candidate should have the capacity to embrace all sections of society." He added, "He should be nationalist, conservative and secularist and protect moral values as well as democratic values."
These are the candidate templates for opposition parties. It seems that they will address the masses not with a political leader, but with actors whose roles and missions are determined according to those templates. Two questions arise: Is there a political actor that matches these templates and can play his role properly? If so, how will he overcome Erdoğan?