The secular Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) presidential alliance that selected the former secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, as a joint candidate for the upcoming presidential election on Aug. 10 has sparked controversy both within the CHP, which is based on secular ideologies, and in Parliament. As the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is likely to announce Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the party's presidential candidate at the end of June, this has raised questions over probable voting rates if Ihsanoglu and Erdogan decide to throw their hats into the ring.
Daily Sabah yesterday spoke to Turkish research institutions regarding what results should be expected from the presidential election, considering Ihsanoglu's scholastic background and Erdogan's political popularity across the country.
A researcher at the Ankara-based Objective Research Center (ORC), Mehmet Murat Pösteki, stated that Ihsanoglu needs to garner the votes of Turkish far-right parties, including the Felicity Party (SP) to be elected as president, but his stance against Egypt's military coup shows that he cannot possibly receive votes from SP and AK Party voters. "Ihsanoglu is a significant figure with his academic background, but his promotion and presentation to the nation can be problematic because there are only two months left until the elections. My prediction is that the AK Party's candidate, whether Erdogan or another political actor, will be elected in the first round of the presidential election."
Regarding CHP grassroots reaction to Ihsanoglu, Pösteki said that CHP grassroots said there is no one that can be nominated within the CHP and that MHP grassroots has no problem with the Ihsanoglu name, referring to his Islamic background.
Research institution GENAR head Mustafa Sen said if the AK Party nominates Erdogan as its presidential candidate, Ihsanoglu will have no chance to win, but it is not just related to Erdogan's himself, as most of the AK Party's senior figures will lead the presidential race. "The CHP and MHP disregard the fact that a presidential candidate will be elected by the nation this time, not by Parliament, and Ihsanoglu is not a well-known figure in society."
Sen harshly criticized Ihsanoglu's stance towards Egypt's military coup. Sen noted that most CHP voters would support Ihsanoglu if he accepts the opposition candidacy offer because what is more important for CHP voters is the CHP leader's institutionalism and ideologies.
When Daily Sabah called the A&G research institution to ask for comments on the presidential election and Ihsanoglu's probable candidacy, the head of the institution, Adil Gür, refused to comment.
Ihsanoglu is a Turkish academic, diplomat and former secretary-general of OIC. Born in Egypt in 1943, Ihsanoglu has worked on the history of science, Turkish culture, the Islamic world and Western relations and Turk-Arab relations.
His family went to Egypt as a reaction to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's attempts to transform and secularize Turkish society through abolishing traditional Islamic institutions and establishing an oppressive regime with regard to Islam.
During his time at the OIC, he was harshly criticized by several groups and the government for his silence with regard to the military coup in Egypt on July 3 and the war crimes committed by the Assad regime in Syria.
For more than a month, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroglu and MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli held talks with each other, certain political figures and civil society to decide what kind of a joint candidate should be nominated for the presidential election that would be more inclusive. Bahçeli says that he held talks with Kılıçdaroglu twice and that naming Ihsanoglu as a joint candidate paved the way for a compromise between these two parties.
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