Who is questioning Turkey’s “survival”?


The 2023 election campaign in Turkey will go down in history as the longest election campaign of its kind. Although the country’s transition to presidentialism practically ruled out early elections, the opposition, with its relentless demands for early elections, is, to a certain extent, able to set the tone for the political debate.

All the talk about elections and candidates re-fuels the “survival” debate. If the Turkish people will spend the next electoral cycle talking about survival, it will mainly be due to the opposition’s commitment to negative campaigns.

The constant attempt to unite the opposition is based on three elements:

  • The duality between authoritarianism and democracy rooted in anti-ErdoÄŸanism,
  • Turn the slightest problem or the slightest false claim into an existential threat to demand early elections,
  • The idea of ​​restoring the parliamentary system of government.

The first two points are pretty self explanatory. The third point is intended to falsify the presidential system as the “mother of all crises”. Opposition leaders, however, fail to explain what exactly they mean by “restoring parliamentarism” or how this transition will address existing problems.

Goal, ErdoÄŸan. to overthrow

The opposition lacks a coherent vision for Turkey after 2023 and that is their greatest weakness. Although the leaders of two major opposition parties, the President of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal KılıçdaroÄŸlu, and the President of the Good Party (IP), Meral AkÅŸener, appear more and more frequently in talks about the presidential election, it will not be easy for the opposition agree a definitive candidate to challenge President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan in 2023.

Kemal KılıçdaroÄŸlu (R), chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and chairman of the Good Party (IP), Meral AkÅŸener (L), give a joint press conference at the CHP headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, April 25, 2018. (Getty Images)

For the record, it is in the interests of the incumbent that the opposition should decide against the use of their master until the last moment. The intimidation and lying policies that opposition leaders are currently following will not make up for the disadvantage of bringing in the challenger, who sits on a platform and promises to impress voters, far too late.

It seems that the opposition often forgets that the next elections will take place under the presidential system. Those opposition leaders, who assure their supporters that any opposition candidate could easily defeat ErdoÄŸan, will be shocked and panicked when the pandemic ends and the Turkish president reinvigorates his base by launching his campaign.

Some supporters of supposedly pro-democratic projects at home and abroad are trying to unite the Turkish opposition in order to “overthrow” ErdoÄŸan. They draw comparisons between Turkey and countries like Malaysia and Hungary. Your message to the various opposition parties is that they need to come together instead of criticizing each other.

How are you going to rule?

They hate the question of how they want to govern after the election. Your answer is that the opposition should unite and overthrow the incumbent president – everything else can be resolved in due course. Because they understand that political issues stand in the way of a united opposition.

An opposition candidate without a plan or agenda cannot even impress foreign companies with investments in Turkey – let alone the Turkish people themselves. President ErdoÄŸan also emphasized the lack of one in a recent address to the provincial leaders of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Opposition timetable: “We cannot hand this country over to some people who run around like a running bike with no direction.”

The chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahçeli, gave an even stronger answer: “The requirements for the establishment of Kurdistan, a 150-year-old repressive and imperialist conspiracy, will be met if the alliance of contempt erroneously takes over Responsibility and (Kemal) KılıçdaroÄŸlu becomes president. “

Some commentators may view these statements as part of an attempt to fuel the “survival” debate ahead of the 2023 elections. But the opposition leaders, who speak of “overthrowing” rather than “replacing” the government, are already leading a more radical debate on “survival” with references to the “dictatorial regime”. It seems unlikely that the opposition will gain anything from this debate alone – without actually presenting a common political vision or revealing a concrete plan.


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