Two topics dominate the comments after Turkey’s presidential election: the strong showing of Selahattin Demirtaş, the Kurdish candidate, who succeeded in appealing to a broader electorate, and who is generally seen as the real star of the election; and the failure of Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the lackluster joint candidate of the opposition parties CHP and MHP. Liberal and social democratic commentators see Demirtaş’ success as heralding the birth of a new left. These commentators stress that the CHP needs to heed the call of this new left and warn that the party is doomed if it persists in allying itself with the rightist MHP. Meanwhile, the public rift within the AKP between the supporters of president-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the outgoing president Abdullah Gül has led many commentators to speculate about the future of the AKP. The prediction is made that Turkey’s course will be determined by the outcome of the intra-AKP struggle.
By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 7, no. 14 of the Turkey Analyst)
Despite his convincing victory in the presidential elections on August 10, 2014, there appears little prospect of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan being able to replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with a presidential one and ruling the country singlehandedly for two successive five-year terms.
The nomination of Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu as the joint candidate of the two opposition parties CHP and MHP in the upcoming presidential election has set off a lively debate among pro-CHP, secularist commentators.
By M. K. Kaya (vol. 4, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)
The Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkey’s main opposition party, will have to adopt a whole new discourse and appropriate a new political mission if it is going to be a force that has any political relevance. The CHP can choose one of two paths: It can either change, becoming a party that is in tune with the political aspirations of a vibrant society for which old dogmas hold little appeal. Or it will resist change, refusing to heed where society is headed; in that case, it will share the fate of the Russian Communist Party. It will be an embittered force of opposition to the evolution of modern Turkish society, a party that has nothing to offer but its history. It is more probable that the CHP will follow down the second, desolate path.
By M. K. Kaya (vol. 4, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
The June 12 general election was historic as it was the first general election in Turkey over which the shadow of the military and the other institutions of tutelage did not fall. Yet the ruling party’s tactics ensured that the election campaign still took place in an environment whose atmosphere was all but democratic. The elections underlined Turkey’s traditional split between a rightist majority and a leftist minority; it also showed that the AKP and the Kurdish BDP – the election’s main winner – both benefited from the polarized electoral environment; further, the main opposition CHP’s impossibly eclectic crop of candidates had too little of a common denominator to challenge the AKP. It will now be up to the new parliament to put the divisive campaign behind it and achieve a new constitution through compromise. Whether that is at all likely nevertheless remains doubtful.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.