Presidential elections in Türkiye.. Will small parties be decisive?

Ankara – Although 4 candidates compete in the Turkish presidential elections scheduled for May 14, it is expected that the competition will be limited between the current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

There are two other candidates, the leader of the Balad Party, Muharram Ince, the rival in the previous elections, along with Sinan Ogan of the Grandfathers Alliance. Winning the elections requires 50% + 1 of the vote.

The political scene is dominated by two main alliances, the first of which is the ruling “Alliance of the People” led by Erdogan, and it includes, in addition to the Justice and Development Party, parties: the Nationalist Movement, the Kurdish “Huda Bar” party, and the “New Welfare” party led by Fatih Erbakan, son of the historical leader Necmettin Erbakan, and the Kurdish “Huda Bar” party. Grand Union.

As for the second coalition, it is the "Nation Alliance" known as the "six-party table" led by Kilicdaroglu, and it includes, in addition to the Republican People's Party, the parties: Good, Happiness, Future, Democracy and Progress, in addition to the Democratic Party.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the presidential candidate of the main opposition alliance in May elections, and the other candidate Homeland Party's leader Muharrem Ince talk to the media after their meeting with in Ankara, Turkey March 29, 2023. Alp Eren Kaya/Republican People's Party/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Opposition candidate Kilicdaroglu (right) failed to attract former candidate Muharram Ince (Reuters)

Every vote is needed

For his part, the head of the "Orsam" Center for Studies in Ankara, Ahmed Uysal, considered that the possibility of going to the second round is high, "because Muharram Ince – in particular – will take significant votes from the Republican People's Party, in addition to the possibility of obtaining part of the votes of the Justice and Development Party."

Speaking to Al-Jazeera Net, Uysal added that the Justice and Development Party has a greater possibility of advancing the results, but the possibility that it will not be able to obtain 50% exists, due to the possibility of votes also being cut from the National Movement Party by candidate Sinan Ogan.

With the inability of the largest popular parties in Turkey to obtain a percentage that guarantees victory, the importance of political alliances has emerged due to the fierce competition and the inability to predict an expected outcome of the elections.

In this context, the expert on Turkish affairs, Ali Bakir, emphasized that due to the deep polarization, every vote is important in itself, regardless of the nature of the political party affiliation of individuals.

Speaking to Al-Jazeera Net, Bakir added that the deepening of polarization in the Turkish political scene may lead to the voter's lack of response to the political discourse, and thus his adherence to his position.

And he continued, "There are those who argue that if the grassroots of the opposition coalition does not adhere to the political decision in the presidential elections, then this will likely be Erdogan's share," expressing the difficulty of imagining that "members of the grassroots of small parties – especially those with a conservative orientation – would vote for a candidate." The opposition (Ataturki) in the presidential elections.

FILE PHOTO: Meral Aksener, Iyi (Good) Party leader speaks during an election rally in Istanbul, Turkey June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir/File Photo
The head of the Good Party, Meral Aksnar, rejected Kilicdaroglu's candidacy because he was unable to compete with Erdogan (Reuters)

political significance

Uysal considered that the importance of small parties in these elections is not only to obtain more votes, but also their multiplicity within each alliance has a psychological impact on the voters.

And the spokesman added that small parties also still have an important role in the electoral base, saying that "1% of the vote is still important because it means nearly a million electoral votes or more."

The political researcher in Ankara, Hussein Al-Ali, also spoke about the fact that the party blocs "suggest to the citizen the large size of the alliance, and that it is not just a few parties combined like the hexagonal table, and in view of the ruling coalition, it was only two parties, but other parties were added to become 5 parties, which magnifies the form of the alliance."

The researcher added that despite the fact that these parties are small in relation to their electoral base, some of them have a history in Turkish politics due to the fact that their founders are prominent personalities from previous political eras.

Observers believe that there are not many left-wing voices supporting Erdogan, as he enjoys the support of the nationalist and conservative right-wing parties (Anatolia)

opposite parties

According to Al-Ali, there is a bloc from the segment of Islamists supporting the Felicity Party that refuses to vote for Kilicdaroglu, but at the same time refuses to vote for Erdogan, so this bloc moves to the ruling coalition with the accession of the new Welfare Party.

The researcher also referred to a similar situation with the Kurdish voter bloc, which refuses to vote for the "Republican People's Party" in general, or for Kılıçdaroğlu in particular, and here comes the role of the conservative Kurdish "Huda Bar" party in Erdogan's alliance with the possibility of attracting these votes.

Al-Ali stressed that "the importance of weak parties is evident in their role in attracting these critical blocs."

On the other hand, Uysal also saw that the presence of right-wing parties alongside the Republican People's Party in his coalition "aims to mitigate the opposition of the conservative segment and the Kurds in general or the conservative Kurds to vote for Kilicdaroglu."

Istanbul.. the password in the municipal elections in Turkey
Small parties still play an important role in the electoral base, as they include nearly a million electoral votes or more (Al-Jazeera)

double-edged sword

Uysal pointed out that the scene within the opposition is complex. Although Kılıçdaroğlu received support from various currents with the aim of overthrowing Erdogan, the rapprochement with the Peoples' Democratic Party "and behind it the Kurdistan Workers' Party (categorized as a terrorist group by Ankara) may alienate nationalist voices." .

He went on to say that the Republican People's Party obtained the support of communist parties such as the Workers' Party, but "it was unable to obtain the support of Muharram Ince's party (the country) or the party of the late Bulent Ejavit (former prime minister and founder of the Democratic Left Party)," stressing that he could not obtain On the support of the center-left parties.

Uysal added that there are not many left-wing voices supporting Erdogan, as he has the support of the nationalist and conservative right-wing parties.

According to Uysal, the Republican People's Party is trying to cut votes from the conservative segment by taking small parties that have an electoral base from the right next to it, "because the conservative segment in Turkey has the majority."

According to Bakir, most of the members of the small parties that Erdogan seeks to secure are conservatives.

The political expert suggested that the conservative segment, "whether they are elites, nationalists, Islamists or Kurds, will not vote for the opposition candidate, even if their political parties decide to do so."

Bakir also agreed with Uysal that Kilicdaroglu's position "bets on the votes of the Kurds without having to publicly declare an official alliance to avoid public criticism."

The presence of marginal parties within the six-party table was beneficial for Kilicdaroglu to announce his candidacy for the presidency (communication sites)

Does the cohesion of the opposition continue?

Bakir, a political expert, speculates that the possibility of other small parties joining alliances is possible, but Awisal ruled out the inclusion of other small parties in alliances due to the approaching election date. The party is an electoral base.

According to Al-Ali, the presence of marginal parties within the six-party table was beneficial for Kilicdaroglu to exploit the vote of each party to support his declaration of a candidate for the alliance, and to overcome the objection of the head of the Good Party, Meral Aksnar, who saw that he was not the appropriate candidate capable of succeeding against Erdogan.

Uysal believes that Kilicdaroglu "could turn his back on the small parties, which could open the door to crises within the alliance."

Such a trend, according to Uysal, "may push the parties: The Future led by Ahmed Davutoglu, the former prime minister, and the Islamic happiness, and Democracy and Progress led by Ali Babacan, the former deputy prime minister, to work and think about establishing a separate alliance."

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