Türkiye will hold the most critical elections in its recent past on May 14, 2023. The haste and increasingly intense rhetoric of electoral alliances and candidates attest to that fact. Before the war of words between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his opponent, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairperson Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, kicks off in the final stretch, it would be helpful to summarize what each candidate says about the future (and what they refrain from saying).
All voters agree that the People’s Alliance and the Nation Alliance candidates have very different visions for Türkiye’s post-May 14 future. Reading the campaign statements of political parties and candidates may be necessary to reach that conclusion, but it is not enough. In my opinion, with which parties and politicians the respective presidential candidates have joined forces says much more about their future deeds and the political context in which they will operate if elected.
Erdoğan’s actions over the last two decades provide valuable insights into what he would do in the next five years if elected. By contrast, it is entirely unclear how Kılıçdaroğlu would govern – although the “table for six” published several policy papers. That is mainly because Erdoğan’s opponent advocates a model where his coalition partners shall receive at least seven vice presidential appointments – which is why voters are confused by the apparent dysfunctionality of that unique system. Specifically, it is highly likely that the leaders of fringe parties will likely be directly or indirectly deprived of any influence as soon as the first significant power struggle breaks out.
The second point is that Kılıçdaroğlu intends to negotiate with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to enable that movement to exercise political power. I believe that this attempt to drag the HDP, a political party with radical demands and no ability to distance itself from PKK terrorists, into the political mainstream is the single most significant issue ahead of the upcoming elections. It is possible to understand some parts of Kılıçdaroğlu’s deal with the HDP, including the allocation of more power to local governments. Yet the ambiguous bits remain a complete mystery. The CHP and HDP insist on the need to “rebuild” Türkiye, but they must unveil the terms of their agreement (specifically, what they intend to do after the elections) to the general public. What is their common understanding of “the new Türkiye”? They refrain from releasing all the details out of fear that they might spook nationalist and neo-Kemalist voters.
In my opinion, the political bloc that Kılıçdaroğlu has built largely rests on the CHP-HDP partnership at this time. Under the current terms, the new administration would not have to give the HDP the vice presidency or a Cabinet seat. Nor does it matter what the opposition bloc shall be called. The point is that the HDP will have more power over critical policies, which will determine the country’s future, than conservative and nationalist parties.
Indeed, the “table for six” released a list of standard policies, which reflected the HDP’s preferences, around the same time as Kılıçdaroğlu’s nomination. That is why the Good Party (IP) left the opposition bloc – only to be bullied back into the room. Yet, the aftershocks continue. Ironically, it was the HDP that quietly imposed its favorite candidate and policies on the Nation Alliance.
The Nation Alliance has been notably ambiguous on foreign policy and national security. That level of ambiguity reflects their official and secret negotiations with the HDP leadership. Kılıçdaroğlu must explain what he intends to do about military operations in Syria and Iraq, the presence of the PKK’s Syrian affiliation, the YPG, across Türkiye’s southern border, and the situation in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean. At the very least, the Turkish people need to know the following: If elected, will Kılıçdaroğlu shake hands with the United States and the European Union (EU) to disregard the YPG’s terror statelet in Syria and Iraq?
In this article
- 14 May 2023 Turkish General Election
- 2023 Turkish General Elections Presidential Candidates
- 2023 Turkish Presidential Election
- Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ)
- Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
- Meral Akşener
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
- 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