Why are the upcoming local elections so important for Turkey? It has been one of the recurring questions in the last couple of months in Ankara's diplomatic circles. This is only a local election, but what makes it so vital for the future of the country? How much can the legislative and executive branches of the state possibly change? The immediate answer to this question would be, "Not on a grand scale."
However, when it comes to current local elections, the answer needs to be further elaborated on in order to comprehend Turkey's new dynamics in the light of the new presidential system.
Firstly, Turkey has been experiencing a new fashion in its political sphere which transforms the tools, methods and language of traditional statesmanship. In fact, the country is on the verge of a new political system based on the consolidation of current alliances in politics, namely the People's Alliance of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and the Nation Alliance formed between the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Good Party (İP); this situation is expected to empower Turkish democracy. Thus, a sharp disagreement is inevitable between these two axes over issues, as democracy necessitates. Within this scope, even the parties in the same alliances might have different standpoints on the country's current and future state.
This is mainly why Turkey has been through a type of spar on politics, where each party has to be waging their own battle to be a winner at the end of the day. Consequently, although each party embraces distinctive ideologies and approaches, which creates intra-alliance accidents on the road quite often, they all see it as "parental discord" and act unified after all.
For sure, this kind of behavior challenges the old-fashioned Turkish political tradition, which leaned on either more single-party oriented rule or the coalitions shaped by different parties that exceed the threshold. But now, each party has a chance to win in the local and national level elections with their mayoral and parliamentary candidates by virtue of the alliances, which emerged in Turkish politics during last year's June 24 parliamentary and presidential elections. Taking all of this into account, it is clearer why the local elections look enormously important for both alliances - because of the chances to win and lose is more unpredictable than ever under these circumstances. So, each side moves forward with full tenacity to be the winner.
Moreover, there is another reason making this election important - not only in the eye of the leaders, alliances and political parties but also their constituents. Since the majority in Turkish society still see the economy as the number one issue, they also prioritize the transparency of the alliances in terms of aligning with terror groups and their commitment to the nation's unity, solidarity and prosperity for all. These concerns over Turkey's unity and continuity have been out there not only because it was dominant rhetoric during the election campaigns but also the developments which have surrounded the country especially since the July 15, 2016 coup attempt perpetrated by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
Thus, the majority of the society expects the parties to continue the war on terror - namely the battle against the FETÖ and PKK terrorist organizations. In fact, they tend to invest in parties which draw a clear border between these terror organizations and themselves no matter what their political background leans on.
Syria is another issue that the public considers most in terms of a threat generated against Turkey with the continued existence of the PKK's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG).
Overall, in the last 48 hours left before the local elections, all of these issues and concerns make this election as important as ever because it will shape the war on terror, economic development and democratic gains the most.
Turkish democracy always benefits from elections and Sunday will contribute to the country's main goals for 2023 no matter the outcome.
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