By Middle East Affairs
Predictions have President Erdogan losing his AK parliamentary majority in the presidential elections that he called for on June 24.
As the president is wishing to change the structure of the government and switch Turkey to an executive presidency, June’s elections are more than a year early than when they should be. President Erdogan won his new presidential powers in a hotly contested election last year, that had some questioning the integrity and validity of the election.
Predictions of President Erdogan losing majority come from Gezici’s survey which polled 6,811 respondents between May 25-26, in the poll Erdogan falls short of a majority taking 48.7 percent of votes in the first round of presidential election, and his main opposition candidate, Muharrem Ince, gaining 25.8 percent of support.
The candidate in third place Meral Aksener who is running on a ticket of strong nationalism is predicted to take 14.4 percent of votes, this is the first time that a female has run for president in Turkey. Aksener was previously an interior minister during a turbulent period of Turkish politics, last year she formed her own party, Iyi Party, after a lifetime membership to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The MHP has entered an election alliance with the AK Party for this election. Aksener disagrees with Erdogan on many issues, both are devout Muslims, she, however, is a strong follower of Ataturk.
In fourth place, Selahattin Demirtas is expected to take 10.1 % of the vote, he has had to hold his campaign “rally” from inside his prison cell, as he was imprisoned shortly after President Erdogan’s last elections. His party the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), won 14 % of support in the last election, winning several seats in parliament, only to see several notable members of its party arrested and imprisoned on charges of alleged ties to the PKK, which have been denied by all HDP members, the only thing they share in actuality is being Kurdish.
Demirtas is a beloved national politician and even behind prison bars, he is expected to boost HDP’s chances of winning more than the 10% needed to secure a place in parliament.
President Erdogan switching between Prime Minister and President has controlled Turkey with his AK party for more than 15 years. His efforts to modernize Turkey and boost the economy through heavy construction projects were much admired in earlier years, however, his ever reaching power and notable quenching of freedom of expression have left many Turks, especially young and secular citizens disillusioned with his reign. Most recently, the lira’s ever losing buying power has been said to be a political tool of manipulation by President Erdogan who seeks to raise instability right before the election to gain favorability.
The poll administered by Gezici shows that the AK Party and their coalition with the nationalist MHP receiving 48.7 % of the vote and falling short of a majority in the 600-seat parliament assembly.
The alliance that will most likely determine who close they come to losing or winning the majority will be determined by how much support their rivals the Republican People’s Party (CHP), in alliance with Iyi Party and Saadet Party, receive. The poll now has them taking 38.9 percent of votes. With imprisoned presidential candidate serving Demirtas facing up to 142 years in prison, the Kurdish HDP party is expected to earn 11.5 percent of support.
HDP is running without an alliance partner, as it’s platform does not align with any other Turkish political party, the importance of that is that if the HDP does not win 10% in the election, it will lose its seats to the party that came second in districts where the HDP came first.
Most likely this would be President Erdogan’s AK party which garners strong support in the east and mainly Kurdish region in southeast Turkey.
The poll published its findings saying, “According to the poll, the ruling party is seen losing the parliamentary majority. Despite the alliances that will be in parliament after the June 24 elections, no single party or alliance is seen reaching a simple majority,”
Murat Gezici, the chairman of the polling group told Reuters that the significance of the poll is that Turkish voters do not favor alliances which is why the distribution of votes in the poll might differ from election results.
When voters were polled, independently the AK party received 43.1 percent while their nationalist alliance partner MHP received 6.2 % of the vote, still losing majority but with a higher percentage than when polled together as an alliance.
Chairman Gezici predicts that “These general and presidential elections will be the most difficult elections in Turkey’s past 20 years. ”
With horrific human rights record, a sluggish economy, and unfavorable military campaigns President Erdogan’s future as he tries to transform the country to an executive presidency is unknown until election day results come out.