2023 Turkish Election: All Possible Scenarios

 2023 Turkish Election: All Possible  Scenarios

 Task Center .Research No. 3 of 2023

Prof.Dr.Othman. PhD. University of Toronto.1993

Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdogan has said that the presidential election will be held on May 14, two months ahead of schedule, another six years since 2002, and if the situation continues, it will be according to the expectations of opinion centers He may win, but his party and coalition may not lose a majority in parliament. However, if the opposition coalition called the Six-Party Alliance can field a strong candidate and the Kurdish vote represented by the PDP is neutralized, the opposition candidate is likely to win. However, the BJP is not expected to relinquish power easily and resort to all legal and political means to stay in power. Because of the importance of the location, here are some views of Western influential parties about their expectations and wishes for the results of the Turkish elections.

We draw the reader’s attention to three very recent studies that have discussed the issue at length: an Economist study, an article in the Wall Street Journal by John Bolton, US National Security Adviser under Trump, and a study by the Maser Research Center.

The impact of Turkey’s 2023 presidential election will not be limited to domestic files related to normal political competition between parties, but will have a global impact, as the Washington Post called the most important event in 2023; Because of the radical changes that result in many region files. Turkey’s regional role did not take shape suddenly, as the active diplomacy adopted by the AKP over the past two decades has played a role in linking it to regional security and stability, in addition to its growing influence in its foreign files Africa, and other files relating to developments in the region such as the energy crisis and crises. This regional role makes the presidential election – in particular – a global event with consequences. These results are basically linked to the challenges that make up the Turkish landscape, which will affect the expected results to some extent and the most obvious of these challenges are:

It includes internal and external challenges that vary in their impact on the political arena in general and on the outcome of the upcoming presidential election in particular, the most prominent of these challenges are:

Local polarization reactions

Political polarization is an integral part of Turkey’s political landscape by its unique nature, as nationalist movements with a secular character have ruled for decades, in various forms In the past, the boundaries of the conflict remained clear, but between the various political currents, after the occurrence of divisions between the main political parties, these differences overlapped and overlapped, and the nature of… the political challenges that constitute political reality. The Good Party was formed after the defection of the Nationalist Movement Party, the Democracy and Progress Party and the Future Party after the defection of Ali Babacan and Ahmet Davutoglu from the Justice and Development Party.

The emerging conservative parties, united with the Republican People’s Party, the Good Party, the Felicity Party and the Democratic Party, formed what is known as the Six-Party Table, an opposition coalition to confront the People’s Alliance, which includes both the BJP and the National Movement Party. Because the constituencies until recently included groups with the same orientation.

The Syrian refugee file and the political and economic reaction

During the last decade of the war, Turkey hosted some 3.7 million Syrian refugees, and worked to integrate many of them into Turkish society by facilitating their access to the labor market, motivating them to learn Turkish and involving them in the education system .Refugees, became one of the issues of fierce political competition between the parties, as the opposition in the past took advantage of the Justice Party’s policy towards the refugee issue to attack it, blaming it on high unemployment and problems Other social, which prompted the Turkish government to take a number of steps, most notably the launch of a project to accelerate voluntary return, by building more than 200,000 housing units in northern Syria and providing benefits for returning Syrians, and other projects through the Justice Party and Development seeks to neutralize this file in the electoral process and reduce the impact of opposition parties’ propaganda.

International polarization reactions after the Russian-Ukrainian war and PKK threats

Over the past two decades, the AKP has taken a different approach to foreign relations. After adopting a zero-problem policy, Turkey has strengthened its active diplomacy, especially in the acceleration of regional crises after the Russian and Ukrainian wars Turkey’s great diplomatic achievements included a Russian-Ukrainian grain export agreement, a prisoner exchange agreement between the aggressors, Turkey’s active participation in the Shanghai Conference, and Ankara’s announcement of its intention to join the organization. This active diplomacy interacts with the existing international polarization, which may have an indirect effect on the Turkish electoral process, as it affected how major countries handled the Turkish elections, especially the US, as it tried to influence the local media, and focused on the youth category. With the aim of influencing the outcome of the elections in a manner that would suit its interests.

Meanwhile, the opposition six-party table coalition announced its draft “Tomorrow’s Turkey”, which included basic amendments to the agreement to reduce the electoral threshold to 3 percent, increase representative powers, and establish electoral districts abroad to ensure greater representation Of the 6 million citizens abroad in parliament. It also defined the term of the President of the Republic as only seven years and for a period, which would not be renewable, provided he severed all ties with his party, and did not become active in politics after the expiration of his term. The extraordinary measures that the President can take on his own will be carefully regulated in the Constitution and he will have no political powers. In an enhanced parliamentary system, neither the president nor the cabinet would have the power to declare a state of emergency on their own, as this would have to be with parliamentary approval.

The challenge of implementing this draft is that it seeks to restore coalition governments, despite the risks in relation to the transitional period that Turkey is going through, and there is no clear mechanism for implementation, especially since the parties are based on… radical differences in ideology and priorities.

https://fikercenter.com/2023/01/18/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%A7 %D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A9-2023/

In the same context of the presidential election, which some describe as the most important election in the history of the Republic of Turkey, there has been more talk of advancing the date of the elections, rather than the view that the opposition talked about a few months ago , even by the ruling party, is that for a few weeks, it may be offered a maximum of two months; For various reasons, including what the Turkish administration declares and perhaps some it does not declare in its media discourse.

On January 5, 2023, President Erdoğan announced that the date of Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for this year “may be brought forward from its scheduled date of June 18”, adding, and “a little early election date may be considered”. Calculate seasonal conditions.” He did not understand exactly what the president meant by “seasonal conditions,” but ruling party spokesman Omer Celik told him earlier: “We want to hold elections on June 18, but because this date coincides with the summer holidays That people are travelling, we’re looking to move the date forward a little bit,” which means the reason might be the summer holidays.

However, Gökçer Tahincioğlu, the head of the opposition channel T24, believes that there are obvious and vague reasons for A.K believes there are obvious and vague reasons for giving the BJP the green light to call early elections. What is obvious, according to Tehincioglu, is the AKP’s fear that its supporters will go on pilgrimage seasons, making the elections, if held next June, fraught with danger to the party’s fortunes. The AKP wants – according to the head of T24 – to have its voters go to the polls in large numbers and without losing, and for this reason they believe that the elections will make progress.

Other opponents raised the issue of the president’s lack of eligibility to run for the upcoming elections, considering he has served two terms as stipulated in the Turkish constitution. Erdogan was elected president in August 2014 under a parliamentary system before the constitution was amended in April 2017 to change the country’s political system to a presidential one.

For Erdogan to return and win the presidential election held in June 2018, and continue in office as president, but this time under a presidential system, which gives the president wider powers. The opposition is trying to argue that Erdogan has served two terms and is not eligible to run. Meanwhile, Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Shantoub, a jurist, prepared a study on Erdogan’s eligibility to run in the upcoming elections after Turkey’s transition from a parliamentary to a presidential system.

In addition, Anadolu Agency, in February 2021, published statements by Hayati Yezigi, Deputy Chairman of the Justice and Development Party for Political and Legal Affairs, in which he said, “The debate on Erdogan’s eligibility to run for a new term is a ‘made debate’ It is not right for someone familiar with the constitution and relevant laws to participate in such a debate.” “The constitutional amendment referendum, held on April 16, 2017, approved important amendments, the most obvious of which was the transition to the presidential system, and all the rules related to running for elections and the conditions of each were explained to the presidential term.”

Some of the rule of law coalition’s intentions to advance the election date have little to do with the legality of Erdogan’s candidacy, considering that this offer may help avoid this debate, arguing that Erdogan, by postponing the election date, two full terms does not, which is a new point that supports the legality of his candidacy will be added to the issue of changing the constitution.

In any case, the decision to accept Erdoğan’s nomination papers rests with the HEC and is unlikely to be a major problem for the rule of law coalition, which believes talking about the issue is a “manufactured debate”. From the opposition which has no legal basis. But the question that arises here is how the rule of law coalition will advance the date of the elections and what is the position of the opposition on the advancement of the date that has been calling for early elections?

Opposition position on early elections

The name of the opposition presidential candidate remains unknown in light of an apparent disagreement over the nomination of a joint candidate, although the presidential and parliamentary elections are approaching, especially after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently hinted at the possibility of their arrest on May What narrows the window of time on which the opposition relied; Hoping to agree on a consensus personality.

And when we talk about the opposition, we don’t mean a unified bloc of parties, but a separatist bloc. They agree on one goal: to defeat Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan The possible names offered, let us take brief look at the most important blocs/coalitions under the opposition umbrella.

What are the opposition political blocs?

The most prominent of these blocs is known as the Six-Party Table, which includes the Republican People’s Party, the largest opposition party, and the Good Party (the third largest opposition party), along with Happiness, Democrats, Future, Democracy and Progress.

Then comes the People’s Democratic Party (PDP ) or HDP( in Turkish bloc), a parliamentary party and the second largest opposition party, with a Kurdish majority, which openly declared itself outside the six-party table, but included a number of smaller communist-affiliated parties and socialist trends and other smaller Socialist associations.

Turkish opposition leaders Six Turkish opposition leaders

Interestingly, what is meant by smaller parties are those that failed to get 10% of the vote in parliamentary elections, and failed to pass the entry threshold, knowing that only 5 major parties lead parliament, namely: Justice and Development (Government), and His ally, the NationalRepublican Movement, Good People, Democratic Peoples Party.

In light of the blocs in the Turkish opposition, the six-party table is visible, of course as the largest coalition, but still needs the votes of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) because of the votes of the Kurdish section.

Mohammed Tahir Oglu “What is Erdogan’s image in the upcoming presidential elections?

https://arabicpost.net( fbclid=IwR3D2pRXnewjy2HK6bFiBy_b_GnJu8mw6P72-uuaNwOCTgn7kn1CHwU5LE )

If the Six-Party Table is Turkey’s largest opposition bloc, the Republican People’s Party and the Good Party are the largest of its six, and they have the final say on naming joint candidates, but they are separate. Where the Republican People want to nominate its president Kemal Kilicdaroglu, while the Good Party wants to nominate Istanbul

The Republican people believe that Kılıçdaroğlu’s leader is capable of dominating Erdoğan through strategies that relied on approaching the conservative section of the AK Party and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to secure Kurdish votes . . . .

On the other hand, the Good Party believes that Akram Imamoglu is closer to the conservatives and Kurds together than Kılıçdaroğlu, won an unprecedented vote in the second Istanbul municipal election in 2019, and is still young.

Despite frequent bilateral meetings between the two parties, and wider meetings at the level of the leaders of the six-party table, the dispute has not yet been resolved it’s a “challenging” transition for Kılıçdaroğlu, who refuses to run for mayor.

In light of these unresolved tensions, we find ourselves faced with 4 different scenarios regarding the possibility of resolving the issue of the putative presidential candidate for the opposition parties.

During 2021 and 2022, as the economic crisis intensified in Turkey, opposition parties repeatedly called for early elections, claiming that the country could no longer tolerate the current administration and needed a new administration to save it from deterioration. But President Erdogan, for his part, confirmed more than once that holding early elections is not on the table and that the opposition should forget this attempt because it will not respond

What is being proposed now – as noted above- is early elections not in the vision that the opposition was calling for, since there are only 6 months to the official date, but what is being proposed is to move the date slightly. In this context, the opposition parties announced their position on early elections, as proposed by the Turkish president, in a statement issued by the “Table Six”, after their meeting on January 5,

“We support any proposal to hold elections before April 6, 2023, according to the system under which the 2018 elections were conducted, and we do not support any early elections under the latest system

The opposition’s position, and the appointment of April 6 in particular, are due to the desire to hold the election under the old electoral law, which was amended less than a year ago. On April 6, 2022, the Official Gazette published the new electoral law, which is scheduled to come into force on April 6, 2023, a year after its publication in the Official Gazette.

The opposition should agree to advance the date of the elections to be held before this date, as it believes that the new electoral law favors the rule of law coalition. The new law included a provision that lowered the electoral threshold from 10 percent to 10 percent

The economy is currently the most prominent file in Turkey and, according to many, the first factor that will determine the course of the vote in the upcoming general elections. Over the past two years, the Turkish economy has suffered several crises, including factors related to the economic decisions of the Turkish administration, as well as a number of global factors that go beyond the Turkish state.

Speaking of global events, the outbreak of the coronavirus, since late 2019, has had a negative impact on the world economy, due to the general closure that has caused in many countries. Social restrictions imposed by governments, including the Turkish government, to control the spread of the virus have affected its growth

In addition, 424,000 out of 520,000 contract holders in the public sector have been verified, the government has also implemented a natural gas consumption subsidy program for citizens, and TL 402 million has been provided to support more than 544,000 families. Food assistance was increased for students residing in Ministry of Youth and Sports accommodation.

In addition, the Turkish government plans to build 500,000 social housing units and 50,000 jobs, in addition to providing 250,000 plots of land suitable for construction. The project is expected to increase the number of social housing units to two million, and the number of people benefiting from these housing units to more than 10 million.

These moves will boost the president’s shares in the upcoming elections, and something may have happened, given that most polls conducted during December 2022 showed an increase in popular support for Erdogan and the ruling party, with a percentage increase in another poll .[ Thus, Erdogan is expected to continue to announce further steps in the coming months, up to the date of the elections, which are described as “destined”.

Files Turkey – December/ January

Under the slogan “Turkey’s dictatorship is coming”, the silhouette of President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was used on the crescent of the Turkish flag.

In a cover article this week about the elections expected in May, the Economist wrote that Turkey is one of NATO’s most important countries and has “growing influence in the western Balkans, in the eastern Mediterranean and more recently in Africa”.

The cover article of the Economist newspaper says that Erdogan will become more authoritarian the longer he stays in power.

 “The country is on the verge of disaster”

“Outsiders should therefore pay attention to Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections, which Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed to be held this week on May 14th. “All the more so because, under its erratic president, the country is on the brink of disaster.”

“Mr. Erdogan’s behavior as the elections approach could push what is today a deeply flawed democracy over the edge into a full-blown dictatorship.”

“… The longer Mr. Erdogan has been in power, the more authoritarian he has become. After 11 years as prime minister, he was elected president and began to transform what had been a weak position into a dominant one,” he said.

“After an attempted coup in 2016, he has purged or arrested tens of thousands of people, often for the mere whisper of a connection to the religious group blamed for the plot, as he attended one of his schools as a child,” she said. . . . .

 “He has consistently taken over institutions and destroyed checks and balances. It has turned much of the media into a tool of state propaganda. In fact, it has censored the Internet.”

“Critics thrown in jail”

“He’s thrown a lot of critics in jail, including opposition leaders, marginalizing rivals within the AK Party. The subservient judiciary has used the courts to harass opponents.”

 “Approaching the third decade of his reign, he sits in a vast palace and cracks his orders at courtiers who are too terrified to tell him when he’s wrong. His increasingly attractive beliefs are rapidly becoming public policy.”

 “It has thus imposed on the former independent central bank a monetary theory that is flat-out bonkers. He thinks the solution to inflation is to make money cheaper. This is the main reason why Turkey’s inflation is 64%. The standard of living is shrinking; anger”. They are about to break.

“Voters are pushing back”

“Voters, especially in the cities, are pushing back. Three years ago, Erdogan’s party lost mayoral elections in the three largest cities of Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir. Polls suggest that if the opposition unites behind the opposition, he could lose the presidency in four months.” The best candidate and the election are more or less clean.

The magazine commented “That’s a big possibility. Mr. Erdogan has decided to tilt an already uneven field further in his favor,” citing legal cases against the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and Imamoglu as examples:

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, perhaps Erdogan’s most reliable rival, was recently sentenced to prison and banned from politics for calling election officials who annulled his first mayoral victory “stupid”. The government is asking the Constitutional Court to shut down the HDP, the largest Kurdish party, many of whose leaders are languishing in prison.

“The choice of concern will be neither fair nor free”

“Mr. Erdogan once likened democracy to a tram journey: when you reach your destination but they were widely free, with large numbers of voters. This is the concern.” It is time for Mr. Erdogan, fearing defeat, to step down and make sure the elections are neither fair nor free.

The Economist concludes the article by saying that Western leaders need to talk.

Reaction by Fahratin Altun:

Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun responded to The Economist’s cover and article on her social media account.

 “Here we go again!” Altun said in his flood, accusing The Economist of recycling “lazy, dull and unintentionally ignorant depictions of Turkey”.

Turkey’s upcoming elections have been the cover of this week’s The Economist, Britain’s influential weekly magazine.)

https://bianet.org/english/law/273038-turkey-could-be-on-the-brink-of-dictatorship-says-the-economist-cover-article )

Stephanie Babst, former NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, gave an interview to Swedish state broadcaster SVT about the country’s application for NATO membership and Turkey’s protests.

“We have seen him use this scenario before,” he said of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement that Finland and Sweden are “hosts for terrorist organizations”. This is a message to his constituency at home,” he said, accusing Erdogan of “holding NATO hostage.”

“Ultimately, I’m very positive that it will be resolved, but there will definitely be a couple of weeks ahead of us filled with crisis diplomacy and some upheaval. So, it won’t be an easy ride,” she said.

Click – MP Kakabawa from Sweden: ‘This is normal Erdogan’

Here is the relevant part of the interview:

Turkey has a long list of demands on Sweden; but do you really think this is what this conflict is about?

No, I don’t think it’s really about what President Erdogan said. We saw him use this scenario before. This is a message towards his constituency base at home. The choice is ahead of him. The economic situation in Turkey is terrible. So, he wants to show leadership; He wants to show that he is the leader of the flock. So he is, I’m afraid to say, using Finland and Sweden to get his strategic messages across.

What kind of concessions do you think Sweden should make?

I think Sweden has already been led by the late Prime Minister Olof Palme who has declared the PKK a terrorist organization and it is up to Sweden to adjust its domestic legislation on how to deal with suspected terrorist activities.

So, I don’t see that there’s much room for maneuver; there may be more when it comes to the arms or weapons embargo Sweden has deployed towards Turkey following its 2019 military invasion of northern Syria. It remains to be seen whether the Turkish government will accept such a concession from Sweden.

So you don’t expect any real policy changes but it’s more a question of verbal insurance?

 But I think this is a two-way street. Other allies need to explain to President Erdoğan that he is holding Sweden, Finland and all 30 other NATO allies’ hostage – political hostages – for his national policy objectives. This, I personally think, is absolutely unacceptable given that we are in a fundamental crisis in Europe. We are in the middle of a war in the middle of Europe. So, all allies, including Sweden and Finland, as new member states, should communicate their full political integration and transatlantic solidarity at the next summit in Madrid. And he’s holding her hostage and really jeopardizing this.” (SD/VK)

Former NATO official says Erdoğan ‘holding NATO hostage for his national policy objectives


January 17,

John Bolton writes that the coalition should jeopardize Ankara’s membership if the Turkish president interferes in future competitions. This article first appeared in the Wall Street Journal on January 16, 2023. Click here to read the original article.

Turkey, led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is again “Europe’s sick man,” albeit for different reasons than those that inspired the original nineteenth-century designation. Mr. Erdogan’s performance has always been divisive and dangerous. His aggressive regional policies were equally dangerous, ranging from undermining key elements of Turkey’s post-Ottoman secular constitution to re-compromising Turkey’s financial system and economic stability. Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but does not act as an ally.

It is possible, however, that it can be stopped, if the West takes bold steps to help ensure its domestic opposition gets a fair shake in the upcoming presidential election. To this end, the coalition must put Ankara’s membership on the cutting edge. Considering exclusion now allows the alliance to debate the pros and cons of membership and emphasize – both to Turkish voters and NATO members – the high stakes of the upcoming election.

Turkish voters will have a chance to take back their country in June, or in May if Mr. Erdogan adjusts the voting schedule. Opposition candidates have a real chance. They won major municipal elections in 2019 in cities such as Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. This is despite the fact that Fr. Erdogan’s attempts to corrupt the electoral process by using prosecution to cripple the opposition and filing false charges against its leaders, including the mayor of Istanbul, whom he tried hard to defeat.

This time there are worrying signs of similar behavior. They accuse Mr. Erdogan and his opposition allies of being dishonest with Turkey and harass the few independent media outlets that remain in the country. Mr. Erdogan is likely to heap additional measures against Turkey’s Kurds, such as demonetisation of one of his main political parties, as well as the arrest of followers of dissident cleric Fethullah Gulenon on trumped-up terrorism charges.

The West can prevent this outcome by putting a spotlight on the hon. Erdogan’s ambivalence encouraged increased international scrutiny and media reporting on Turkey’s elections. NATO could likewise state clearly that Turkey’s failure to hold free and fair elections would ultimately lead to the decision to terminate NATO membership. The founding charter does not stipulate expulsion or suspension, but the international law principle of rebus sic stantibus—“as things now stand”—provides more than a broad basis for doing so. NATO’s governing body, the North Atlantic Council, will have plenary powers to take measures necessary to protect the security of its institutions.

No country has the right to participate in this alliance. Erdogan has not acted as an ally. Its worst crime in years was the purchase of the sophisticated Russian S-400 air defense system in December 2017. The decision is incompatible with current NATO defense measures and jeopardized US stealth F-35 technology, thereby jeopardizing the security of NATO allies and partners in the Middle East .

    Bolton adds “President Trump should have immediately imposed tough sanctions under the Counter-Adversaries Act, but his closeness to Mr. Erdogan and Vladimir Putin won. The penalties were not announced until December. 14, 2020 – After Turkey accepted the delivery and began testing the S-400, and after Mr. Trump lost re-election. Congress banned Turkey from producing and selling F-35s in 2018-19, but Mr. Trump’s delay in passing sanctions sent mixed signals, further encouraging Mr. Erdogan’s powerlessness.”

Other Honorable Parties. Erdogan’s foreign policy is equally treacherous. He has “neo-Ottoman” aspirations to regain Turkish influence in Middle Eastern affairs. These supported Turkey’s efforts to establish hegemony over northern Syria amid the country’s civil war. At times it has been expressed in direct threats to bring in Turkish troops where the possibility of contact with the United States is dangerous. and U.S.-led coalition forces were likely, Ankara jeopardized U.S. efforts to defeat ISIS’s territorial caliphate, prevent its resurgence, and keep Islamic prisoners inside Syria. During the protracted regional conflicts after the Arab Spring, Mr. Erdogan has blackmailed Europe by allowing refugees to flow through Turkey to neighboring countries, all while intervening in the anarchy that prevails throughout Syria. His continued opposition to Israel likewise reflects his broader hegemonic designs in the Middle East.

While Mr. Erdogan won praise for supplying Ukraine with drones after the Russian invasion in February 2022. The move was more of a publicity stunt to advertise his drone program and should not obscure his ongoing threats elsewhere

NATO’s Election Message for Erdogan ) ,WSJ: NATO’s Election Message for Erdogan – P.A. Turkey


The results of the  study:

The study concludes that these elections will be decisive in Turkey and after that Turkey will enter a new stage in its foreign relations and will inevitably undergo significant changes in its government system and Turkey after the elections will be different from the current Turkey. Turkey is approaching the Russia-China axis and Erdogan has put Turkey on the threshold of a political and economic renaissance and this development will not stop, whatever 1the outcome.