(In collaboration with Termometro Politico)
On August, 10th, for the first time the Turkish people will directly elect the new President of the Republic.Two opponents are competing for the position: on one hand, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, from the Justice and Development Party (AKP), on the other one, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, already member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. The appointment of Ihsanoglu is supported by five opposition parties: Republican People’s Party (CHP), the main opponent of of the AKP, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the Democratic Left Party (DSP), the Independent Turkey Party (DTP) and the Democratic Party (DP).
Although for the first time the opposition has created a united front against the AKP, Erdoğan is still considered by the majority as certain winner due to different reasons.
The first one is related to the victory that AKP has gained at the administrative elections of last 30th of March. In that occasion, in fact, AKP has obtained 47% of preferences against 28% of CHP and 13% of MHP. The one which took place in March was the 7th victory in a row for AKP, which has dissolved every doubt on its dominance in the Turkish political context, in spite of the scandals that struck its hierarchies throughout the last months, the nationalistic outbreaks and the internal crisis that the Government had to face after Gezi Park and the break with the Gülen’s movement.
Looking at the numbers abovementioned, it appears clear that one of the reasons of Erdoğan’s electoral success, can be linked to the fragmentation of the opposition and the dispersion of the votes for the latter, increased by the presence of the 10% threshold to enter the Parliament, as established by Turkish elector law.
Furthermore, it is especially the economic success that has led to the one of the AKP. The economic results which are one of Erdoğan’s strongest points, appear reassuring: although decreased compared to the years before the crisis, the growth rate for the first three months of 2014 has peaked 4,3%, with an increase of 33% in comparison with 2013.
However, this positive trend is not granted in the long-term, being known that political instability does not foster the investments. In addition to that, we must take into consideration that Turkish policy is primarily based on exportations, while the regional context is extremely heated and the ISIS threatens to absorb Turkey into a new big caliphate.
Besides the problems abovementioned, other factors put at risk the cohesion of the domestic arena: just to make an example, the opposition has recently criticized the lack of financings for the electoral campaign and the threats that Ihsanoglu has received since the moment of his candidacy.
Broadening the range of analysis, the problems and the risks increase as well: according to many, the rise of Erdoğan to the Presidency would mean bigger polarization, instability and authoritarianism. In sum, the risk is to have a dominant party in a divided society. In this sense, the statements of the Prime Minister do not sound very inclusive. For instance, he has recently stated that he won’t be impartial as President of Republic, contrary to the provisions of art. 110 of Turkish Constitution.
In conclusion, the elections of next 10th of August will represent a fundamental step for the democratic future of Turkey. Will the winner, as many think, be Erdoğan? If yes, will he keep his promises of realizing a New Turkey, where democracy is merely based on the economic data and the electoral legitimation?
Master’s degree in International Relations (LUISS “Guido Carli”)