In a race against time.. Can the Turkish opposition alliance hold together amid many challenges?

ANKARA – The leader of the Turkish opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, is racing against time to unite ranks and mobilize the largest amount of support after his failure to defeat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the first round of the presidential elections that took place on May 14.

With the countdown to the second round of the presidential elections scheduled for May 28, Kilicdaroglu faces difficult challenges, especially since the first round of the presidential elections saw President Recep Tayyip Erdogan outperform him by more than 4 points, obtaining 49.51%.

The "People's" coalition led by Kilicdaroglu was unable to obtain a majority in parliament, and came in second place with 35.02%, after the "People's" coalition led by Erdogan, which got 49.47%.

Turkey Prepares For Presidential Election
The results of the first round of elections shocked the opposition, which relied on the deterioration of the economic situation and the repercussions of the earthquake (Getty Images)

First round shock

The results of the first round were an unexpected shock to the "People's" coalition, especially since its ally in these elections is the deteriorating economic situation and the devastating February earthquake.

It seems that the opposition coalition, or what was previously known as the "six-party table", was not prepared for such an outcome and did not have a clear plan for managing the crisis.

As a result of the shock, Kılıçdaroğlu dismissed his campaign managers, and the reaction of the allied parties seemed lackluster in his support prior to the second round, as described by experts, which suggested the existence of internal disputes, which raises the question of the extent of the cohesion of the People's Alliance.

disagreements from the start

And about the differences within the opposition coalition, the head of the Optimar Center for Studies, Hilmi Dashdemir, says, "It is not a new thing." In his interview with Al-Jazeera Net, he explains that the process of naming a candidate representing the coalition was the first indication of disagreement. And that Kilicdaroglu created what was known as the six-party table "in order to bargain for his candidacy."

Dashdemir justified his opinion that the coalition refrained from including parties of the same orientation, such as the Democratic Left Party and the Country Party, but on the other hand, it added 4 other parties of conservative orientations, although their voting mass did not reach 1%.

According to the political expert, this was the most important point of disagreement and resulted in Meral Aksener, leader of the Good Party, leaving the six-party table before returning to it.

According to Dashdemir, these disagreements "wiped the credibility of the opposition front and severed the ties of its weak cohesion."

Other preferred names

In turn, Gökhan Sarmali, a faculty member at Recep Tayyip Erdogan University, attributed Aksener's position to the fact that "Kılıçdaroğlu's career is full of defeats in front of Erdogan."

Speaking to Al-Jazeera Net, Sarmali added that Akshnar believed that other names were more appropriate to represent the opposition, such as Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayor of Istanbul and Mansur Yavash, the mayor of Ankara, and she was convinced of their ability to extract votes from the ruling Justice and Development Party.

The National Good Party is the second largest party in the "People's" coalition after the Republican People's Party. It was not understood on what basis Miral Aksnar was persuaded to return to the coalition 3 days after his departure, which raised the question in political circles whether this was motivated by a threat.

After the shock of the first round of the elections, Aksnar entered into a state of political silence, then 5 days after the results were announced, she declared that she would continue to support Kilicdaroglu.

According to Sarmali, Aksnar had a conservative relationship with the People's Alliance and enjoyed the support of the Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and its successor, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is classified as a "terrorist group", because she does not want a link between her nationalist party – which is split from the National Movement Party – with this link that threatens her bloc. voting.

Sarmali pointed out that the presence of the Future Party led by Ahmet Davutoglu, and the Democracy and Progress Party led by Ali Babacan, in the "People's" coalition caused a state of hesitation, as they are defectors from the Justice and Development Party.

The speaker believes that the weak voting bloc of these newly established parties, in addition to the Felicity Party and the Democratic Party, raised a state of unease and a sense of unfairness when the parliamentary results appeared, as these parties obtained a large amount of their parliamentary seats from the lists of the Republican People's Party.

According to the academic, the disagreements undoubtedly showed the People's Alliance as a "broken alternative" to the Erdogan-led People's Alliance.

Flopped after the first round

Regarding Kilicdaroglu's chances in the second round, Dashdemir stressed that "the probability of the People's Alliance winning is almost zero." He justified this by saying, "They convinced their voting bloc with fake opinion polls, and because of the results of the first round, the participation rate of Kilicdaroglu's supporters in the second round will be low."

Academic Sarmali suggested that the opposition coalition does not have a vision about how to conduct its affairs if it loses the second round, indicating that all its motives are to "seize power from Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and return to the parliamentary system," which is difficult to achieve with its lack of a legislative majority.

The academic said, "It is unlikely that the alliance will last for a long time in the event of a loss, and that its parties will be subject to harsh criticism from their cadres and public opinion."

Ozdag.. a nail in the coffin of the alliance

With the third candidate in the presidential elections, Sinan Ogan, receiving 5.17% of the vote, and announcing his support for Erdogan in the second round, Kılıçdaroğlu realized the importance of national votes and focused his speech strongly on anti-refugees with a campaign titled "Syrians will go."

And with Ogan, who ran for the "ancestral" coalition, announcing his support for Erdogan, the leader of the disjointed grandparents' alliance and the leader of the Victory Party, Umit Ozdag, emerged on the scene, who preferred to support Kilicdaroglu after they reached a settlement, including the return of Syrian refugees within one year.

The academic Sarmali commented that both the public and the people's coalitions are trying to mobilize votes through the disjointed "ancestors" coalition, which may increase the element of nationalism in the next authority. But in the case of the People's Alliance, the matter is more difficult because of the relationship with the Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party.

It is worth noting that Ozdag's support for the People's Alliance causes resentment. His approach against the Syrians puts him at odds with the Future Party and its leader, Davutoglu, from which 11 founding members recently announced their resignation as a result of Kilicdaroglu's racist rhetoric against refugees.

Ozdag also disagrees with the head of the Dawa and Progress Party, Ali Babacan, over the definition of Turkish identity and does not have a positive relationship with the "Good" party, from which he defected after accusing its president, Meral Aksener, of mobilizing the party with members of the Fethullah Gulen group, which the Turkish authorities classify as "terrorist". ". As for the happiness and democratic parties, there is no evidence that they are welcome either.

In addition, his statements in terms of national security are against the Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and behind it the Kurdistan Workers' Party, and this would threaten the support of the Kurdish voting bloc for Kılıçdaroğlu at a time when the latter is trying to keep the opposition alliance coherent, albeit ostensibly, until the second round despite The crack in its basic structure.

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