Türkiye’s opposition parties grow more and more likely to contest next year’s presidential election with multiple candidates. Having pledged to endorse a single candidate for two years, the opposition will be handing rhetorical ammunition to the People’s Alliance if it fails to reach that goal. In that case, the ruling alliance would probably hammer home the fact that the opposition parties could not even form a coalition, let alone govern Türkiye. That the opposition leaders, who met many times, only to fail to endorse a single candidate, cannot govern as a single entity would be a convincing argument.
The ongoing tug-of-war between the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Good Party (IP) over joint presidential candidates would be a great case in point. There would be no need to say more. A timeline transition agreement, or even common policies, could not stop the People’s Alliance from criticizing the “table for six.” After all, none of those agreements would be binding for the second-round winner.
It is no secret that politics are extremely dynamic. Keeping in mind that the distribution of parliamentary seats could encourage various players to work closer together, the opposition fielding multiple candidates would actually benefit the People’s Alliance.
The Turkish masses have been closely watching as the opposition bloc replaced its original plan, a first-round victory with a jointly endorsed candidate, with a strategy involving multiple candidates.
CHP Chairperson Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu successfully undermined repeated calls by Meral Akşener, who chairs the IP, to field an “electable” candidate – meaning Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu or Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş. Most recently, he urged Akşener not to meddle in his party’s internal affairs. Accordingly, it seems that Kılıçdaroğlu intends to seek the opposition bloc’s endorsement himself. If Akşener sticks to her guns and refuses to endorse the CHP chairperson, however, the opposition bloc will have no choice but to field multiple candidates.
The idea of jointly endorsing one of the opposition leaders is less attractive than it seems – especially for the IP’s chairperson. That is because the opposition leader, which is jointly endorsed, could help their own party win more votes. Each opposition party, however, must try to maximize its number of parliamentary seats since that number will determine the distribution of power within the future coalition. By contrast, Kılıçdaroğlu running as the joint presidential candidate would cause some IP voters to end up supporting the CHP and changing the distribution of parliamentary seats.
Many people would then remember how Akşener, who stole the CHP chairperson’s spotlight at the Saraçhane rally and wanted to be prime minister, could not claim any municipalities for the IP in the 2019 local elections. The idea that the IP’s alliance with the CHP favors the latter, too, would make the IP base unhappy – not to mention the People’s Alliance accusing the right-wing parties of “riding the CHP chairperson’s coattails.”
Benefiting from Imamoğlu’s momentum
Kılıçdaroğlu has effectively ruled out any option except asking the “table for six” to endorse his presidential bid at the CHP’s request. He could not possibly endorse other opposition leaders either, having refused to nominate even his own party’s mayors. The CHP organization and base would not accept that outcome either – not when the names of Imamoğlu and Yavaş feature so frequently.
In the meantime, a Turkish court’s verdict on Imamoğlu revealed yet another problem within the opposition camp. Opposition leaders have described their relationship with Istanbul’s mayor as “father and son” and “sister and brother” to take advantage of his momentum, claim him, and control him – as opposed to identifying with him.
At the same time, Kılıçdaroğlu’s call on Akşener not to “meddle” in his party’s internal affairs leads many people to ask how exactly Imamoğlu and Yavaş won mayoral races in Istanbul and Ankara. Were they the candidates of a single party or the alliance? That debate is also relevant to the future of the “table for six.” Who will claim the victory if the presidential candidate, which receives the opposition bloc’s endorsement, wins – even if it’s a second-round victory? What kind of familial references will the opposition leaders make to fight for power?
In this article
- 14 May 2023 Turkish General Election
- 2023 Turkish General Elections Presidential Candidates
- 2023 Turkish Presidential Election
- Ekrem İmamoğlu
- Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
- Meral Akşener
- Nation Alliance
- Paris Climate Agreement
- People's Alliance
- Table for Six | Turkish Opposition Alliance
- Türkiye's 2023 Elections
- Türkiye's Good Party (IP)
- Türkiye's Good Party (IP) Chairperson
- Türkiye's Republican People's Party (CHP)
- Türkiye's Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman