The countdown to the presidential election, the first round of which will take place on Aug. 10, has started. Three frontrunners will be in the race for the presidency. The favorite candidate of the election is the current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Opposition parties, the Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) announced former Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu as their joint candidate. The third runner in the election is Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-president of the People's Democratic Party (HDP). After the nomination announcements, overall surveys about the election have begun.
According to the first results, the voter turnout in the presidential election will be lower compared to previous general elections. An 80 percent voter turnout is estimated. Turnout amongst foreign Turkish citizens voting abroad is said to be down around 50 percent. It is estimated that Erdoğan will have 52-53 percent of the votes in the first round of the elections and will be the next president. The joint candidate of the opposition is estimated to have 35 percent while Demirtaş is estimated to have 10 percent of the votes. Although some survey agencies say that Erdoğan will not be elected in the first round but the second, they are certain that Erdoğan will go up to the Çankaya Mansion.
Hence, the discussion point is not who will take over the presidency on August 28 but what kind of a political climate is waiting for Turkey after August 28. To understand this, the game plans of the political actors should be studied. It can be said that either of two possible scenarios will occur in Turkey after August 28.
The first scenario belongs to Erdoğan. Erdoğan's aim as president is to deepen reforms and to complete comprehensive projects that have been developing up until today. He says that there is no turning back from the Reconciliation Process. He also states that he will make no compromises regarding the fight with the parallel state. Erdoğan signals that he will give all his energy to the construction of a state and a system which is democratic and pluralist. Moreover he underlines that he will not only take a close interest in macro politics but also in micro politics.
This means that the first elected president will work closely with the prime minister. The president gives authority to the Prime Minister to form government. Erdoğan will give this authority to a person who he can work in coordination with. This will also be a signal to the party members informing them of the election of the chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the extraordinary congress. It must not be forgotten that the chairman of the AK Party and the prime minister will be the same political actor. This figure will then take AK Party and the cabinet to the elections in 2015. If Erdoğan's plan succeeds, Turkey will be governed in absolute harmony between the Çankaya Mansion and the prime minister's office until 2019. Erdoğan aims to get closer to his 2023 goal with this scenario.
The other scenario belongs to the same state of mind as the one who announced the opposition's joint candidate. The opposition does not expect to win the presidential elections. the Çankaya Mansion has already been taken out of their equation. Their plans are made according to Erdoğan's presidency. It is clear that the opposition will try a series of attempts to weaken the link between Erdoğan and the government as well as the AK Party. They think that they will have a better chance if they compete with a weakened Erdoğan-free AK Party in the 2015 elections. Re-designing the balances within the AK Party from the outside is the only tool of the opposition block including names from media and business world.
Erdoğan says that the presidential elections have been the only agenda he has had for a while. He asks from his friends in the party not to argue about who will be the next prime minister. Despite all the warnings, some AK Party politicians are talking about the era after Erdoğan. These politicians give the 'I am here' message in their statements. These kinds of statements make AK Party vulnerable to outside interventions. It can be said that Erdoğan interprets these as a kind of attempt to 'intervene in the democratic process of the party.'