upa-admin 12 Mart 2024 492 Okunma 0

Türkiye will hold its local elections on March 31, 2024. The elections will be a battleground as usual between the right-wing Islamist and ultranationalist bloc led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamist/conservative AK Parti (Justice and Development Party) and Devlet Bahçeli’s ultranationalist MHP (Nationalist Action Party) versus Özgür Özel and Ekrem İmamoğlu’s pro-secular CHP (Republican People’s Party). Some public opinion polls published this week[1] suggest that AK Parti will keep its leading position on the ballot, but will lose several metropolitan and coastal cities’ (Adana, Ankara, Aydın, İzmir, Mersin, Muğla, Tekirdağ, etc.) municipalities to CHP and many densely Kurdish-populated southeastern Anatolia villages’ (Diyarbakır, Mardin, and Van as metropolitan cities and many other villages) municipalities to pro-Kurdish DEM Party. In addition, AK Parti’s junior partner MHP could win the municipal race in Manisa, the Islamist YRP (New Welfare Party) in Şanlıurfa, and the pro-secular nationalist İYİ Parti (Good Party) in Ordu. In some cities including Antalya, Balıkesir, Bursa, Eskişehir, and İstanbul, the election will be a tight race between CHP and AK Parti candidates. But it is almost certain that AK Parti will continue to be the biggest party in the country and win most of the metropolitan (Denizli, Erzurum, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaraş, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Konya, Malatya, Sakarya, Samsun, Trabzon) and other cities’ municipalities.

Meral Danış Beştaş

Especially the municipal race in Istanbul is widely followed by Turkish people and international observers as the competition between CHP’s Ekrem İmamoğlu and AK Parti’s Murat Kurum is very close and a maximum of a few points (1 to 3 %) difference will set the winner.[2] In the meantime, both parties and candidates try to weaken the other side by supporting third actors. Accordingly, Murat Kurum and AK Parti are keen on the success of the pro-Kurdish DEM Party and its mayoral candidate Meral Danış Beştaş, whereas CHP and İmamoğlu are happy to see the rise of Fatih Erbakan and his Islamist party New Welfare (YRP). It seems like the Istanbul election signifies more than a municipal election and it represents a real struggle for the future of Türkiye since CHP’s İmamoğlu is expected to become the presidential candidate of the opposition in case he can win the municipal race once again.

Fatih Erbakan

In that sense, another popular discussion topic in Turkish politics nowadays is the 2028 scenarios. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently announced the 2024 local elections will be his last elections[3] since he will end his tenure in office as the President of Türkiye for the second time in 2028. Turkish constitution allows a politician to become President maximum of two terms and ten years. Article 101 of the constitution states; “The President of the Republic’s term of office shall be five years. A person may be elected as the President of the Republic for two terms at most.[4]

Erdoğan’s political future will be shaped by the forthcoming events and agreements probably in 2027 or 2028

But as the Deputy Speaker of the Turkish Parliament (TGNA/TBMM), Bekir Bozdağ reminded everyone[5], Article 116 of the constitution also states that “If the Assembly decides to renew the elections during the second term of the President of the Republic, he/she may once again be a candidate.[6] Thus, in case the Turkish Parliament decides to renew the elections before 2028 May, President Erdoğan might become a presidential candidate for the third time (in fact for the fourth time since he was elected President and served between 2014 and 2017 as the Turkish President within the parliamentary system). To do this, Erdoğan needs a 3/5 majority decision (360 votes) in the 600-seated parliament. The current parliamentary seats composition of the TGNA is as follows[7]: AK Parti 264, CHP 129, DEM Party 57, MHP 49, İYİ Parti 38, SP (Felicity Party) 20, DEVA Party 15, Independents 7, HÜDA-PAR 4, YRP 4, DP (Democrat Party) 3, TİP (Turkish Labour Party) 3, DBH (Democratic Regions Party) 2, EMEP (Labour Party) 2, DSP (Democratic Left Party) 1. That is why, President Erdoğan needs the support of several parties to do this including MHP, İYİ Parti, HÜDA-PAR, YRP, and an independent MP. I guess this scenario seems quite possible if Erdoğan will act stubbornly and offer some privileges to these parties. Erdoğan’s second option is to amend the constitution. Article 175 of the constitution requires again 3/5 majority for such revision and Erdoğan will need the support of other right-wing parties to do this. Erdoğan, with the support of this majority, could revise the constitution and allow a third or even a fourth term presidential limit for himself and future Presidents.

İmamoğlu’s fate depends on his success in the 2024 local elections

Another big question to be answered for 2028 is who will be the candidate of the opposition led mainly by CHP? In case he wins in Istanbul again, it will be almost certain that Ekrem İmamoğlu will be the candidate of the opposition and will be endorsed by many other pro-secular parties. If he loses the election controversially, İmamoğlu could still make a move for leadership within CHP and a possible presidential candidacy in 2028. However, I think his good reputation as a young and winning candidate will be harmed after a defeat in Istanbul and he might not reach the previous popularity and pace in politics. Thus, İmamoğlu’s political fate depends on his success in Istanbul’s mayoral election on March 31, 2024. If İmamoğlu could not win this time in Istanbul, Ankara mayor Mansur Yavaş could be the presidential candidate of the opposition led by CHP. Yavaş is almost guaranteed to win in Ankara although his opponent Turgut Altınok is also a successful local politician. In that sense, the 2024 local elections also simultaneously create competition within the opposition and in CHP particularly. İmamoğlu-led CHP will represent a more reformist social democratic and liberal party opening its gates to pro-Kurdish voters as well, whereas Yavaş will represent the Kemalist/nationalist heritage with his MHP background and proximity to the Turkish State.

In any case, Türkiye’s democratic and economic potential should be used properly in the coming years. Gerontocratic and statist approaches prevent the country from further developing in every aspect of life from academia to politics. Moreover, the country’s reluctance to face with the Kurdish Question and the Cyprus Problem necessitates a problematic relationship with the West and international norms. In that sense, it is no surprise that ultranationalist and radical Islamist politics are on the rise again in Türkiye since these political ideologies/movements focus on the country’s particular characteristics rather than commonalities with other nations/states and do not respect international law. That is why, Türkiye more becoming like Azerbaijan and Russia with Erdoğan continuing to dominate politics as a strongman still seems to me a more likely scenario. However, I should add that economic problems including the hyperinflation and the devaluation of Turkish lira are serious and they would make Erdoğan less popular in the eyes of the voters. To counterbalance this, Erdoğan might try to expand his political bloc in the coming months by adding İYİ Parti to his electoral coalition called “Cumhur İttifakı” (People’s Alliance) and to start a new Kurdish opening to win the support of Kurdish voters.

Cover Photo: https://www.dreamstime.com/flag-turkey-world-map-image140218417

Assoc. Prof. Ozan ÖRMECİ


[1] https://www.yenicaggazetesi.com.tr/30-buyuksehir-anketi-aciklandi-bu-illerde-surpriz-var-774476h.htm.

[2] https://tr.euronews.com/2024/03/06/31-mart-yerel-secimleri-son-anketlere-gore-istanbulda-kim-onde-imamoglu-ve-kurumun-oyu-kac.

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjYFDT9fJdQ.

[4] https://www.anayasa.gov.tr/media/7258/anayasa_eng.pdf.

[5] https://www.sozcu.com.tr/erdogan-son-secimim-demisti-bekir-bozdag-dan-dikkat-ceken-mesaj-p28436.

[6] https://www.anayasa.gov.tr/media/7258/anayasa_eng.pdf.

[7] https://www.tbmm.gov.tr/sandalyedagilimi.

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