Why did the Nation Alliance collapse while the People's Alliance remained strong?

ÖMER BAYKAL @omrbaykal85
Published 06.07.2018 22:24

On June 24, the Turkish people determined the future form of the legislative and executive organs of their state, changing the governing system from a parliamentary to a presidential one. When compared to the world overall, the 86 percent voter turnout was very high, showing the maturity of Turkish democracy.

The June 24 elections, which were more than just political choice, became a significant turning point for Turkish politics, and opened a new era in the country. It is safe to say that a huge transformation process is at door in the new period. All eyes are now on next Monday when the new cabinet will be announced. Every citizen is looking forward as to how the new system will function and work. In order to give some clues about this and predict the possible road map of the new administration, elections results need to be analyzed.

According to many elections polls, President Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) victory had been predicted. Thus, the purpose of the opponent Nation Alliance under the leadership of the Republican People's Party (CHP) was to go to the second round in the presidential elections, and get their candidate Muharrem İnce elected with the support of their partners in the alliance. President Erdoğan's 52.6 percent of votes ended the CHP's strategy. However, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) passing the threshold with the support of the CHP decreased the AK Party's votes and seats in the Parliament. With the elections results, everyone found an opportunity to have a say in the Parliament. However, the HDP's pro-PKK discourses, rather than trying to represent the Kurds, seems to put the CHP in a tight spot. Accordingly, the CHP has recently started experiencing hard times in the new period, facing a leadership fight between its chairman and presidential candidate, yet the party leadership is happy at the same time since the AK Party couldn't get enough seats to enact law.

Cracks in the allianceLet's analyze further the results of the Nation Alliance. First of all, one of the most important points is the 8 percent difference between the votes of the CHP and its candidate Muharrem İnce. CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who didn't run for the presidency, seems to have lost his popularity after such a big difference with İnce's rate. The main reason behind it was the CHP's HDP strategy, which also led to turbulence in the party leadership. According to many experts, the CHP supported the HDP's presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş and helped him get the 7.3 percent of votes and its party get 11.7 percent of votes. However, the HDP's seats decreased the CHP's power in the Parliament. Although the members of the alliance – the CHP, the Good Party (İP) and Felicity Party (SP) who have different political backgrounds – worked together, sometimes even cooperated with the marginal HDP in the presidential elections against Erdoğan, they couldn't convince AK Party and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) supporters to vote for them and thus failed.

Erdoğan was elected as the president while his party got the majority of the votes and his ally MHP got 11 percent votes. It is clear that the People's Alliance of the AK Party, the MHP and the Great Union Party (BBP) reached its goal. However, the AK Party's votes decreased – even less than its votes in the Nov. 1, 2015 elections. Erdoğan expressed in his balcony speech that he got the message by the people in the ballot boxes to its party. Meanwhile, the CHP's İnce couldn't get support from the conservatives since they never vote either for the CHP or its candidate due to the party's former policies, which, according to them, fueled and deepened the cultural, political and ideological discrimination in the country. Moreover, the conservatives and nationalists define the CHP as an oppressive party that imposes policies on people without asking about their will. That's why, the SP, which has a conservative background, was harshly criticized for its alliance with the CHP. Therefore, CHP's İnce wasn't supported by the conservatives and traditional nationalists.

It is necessary to analyze the İP's ideology. The newly-founded İP was formed by some former members of the MHP. The Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) members, who had tried to occupy the MHP leadership for a long time but couldn't do it, also participated in the foundation of the İP to run for the presidency. The İP, which has recently declared that it is leaving the Nation Alliance, represents those who are fed up with the AK Party, the Kemalists who don't like the CHP's strategies and the nationalists who cannot find a position in the MHP. According to the reports, half of its votes are from the MHP, two-tenths of it is from the AK Party and the remaining three-tenths belong to the CHP's Kemalists. The future of the İP and whether it could secure its vote rate depend on the next elections.

The SP became the most unsuccessful among the ally parties. The voter base of the SP was disturbed by their party's alliance with the secular CHP, and accordingly didn't support their party and their presidential candidate.

Facing the crisis, the MHP remained strong and backed the state and government against such operations. As I mentioned in my previous op-ed, the MHP represents the raison d'etre of the Turkish state, thus it united against the threats, according to it, posed to Turkey. Therefore, the MHP decided to cooperate with the AK Party and played a big role in Erdoğan's campaign for the elections and helped him get elected as the first president of the new governing system. Also, it could have increased its vote rates and gotten a significant number of seats. Its power position has been strengthened with its success in the June 24 elections and become a key party in the Parliament. As President Erdoğan declared on Friday afternoon, the alliance between the AK Party and MHP will be maintained in the Assembly, proving the MHP's significant position in the new era.

As a result, it can be said that Turkey has launched the major transformation process with the new system. There are two key factors that will shape the future of the politics: First is the AK Party's success in gaining the hearts and minds of the people that didn't vote for it and the second is the economy issue. In case the AK Party can overcome these two challenges, the future will seem bright for itself and Turkey at the same time.

*Ph.D. and lecturer at Public Administration and Political Science, Bartın University

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