'Wind of change' in Turkish political parties

Türkiye’s political parties are going through a process of change. The two most recent elections hammered home the point that change needs to happen for political parties to address society’s demands. Change is the never-changing rule of life. The most important question relates to where, to what extent and with which stakeholders change should take place. Again, the debate over détente, normalization and constitutional reform highlights how and under which conditions political parties will undergo change. Since the "new constitution" debate will bring up various issues like identity, the political system and national security, political parties must not fail to revisit society’s everyday problems and long-standing issues.

Wind of change' in Turkish political parties
Role reversal Changing dynamics of CHP and Good Party

Role reversal: Changing dynamics of CHP and Good Party

A series of meetings between the leaders of Türkiye’s major political parties steered the national conversation in recent weeks, creating an opportunity to breathe new life into Turkish politics. Such reactivation would entail a heated debate on a broad range of issues related to Türkiye’s present condition and future.


Most of them are worried that CHP, which recently replaced its leader, could experience internal turmoil. Others disagree with the current Chairperson's decision to abandon polarization and harsh statements, fearing that the opposition bloc, which has been feeding off anti-Erdoğanism, will weaken. The former CHP Chairperson's remarks –“One does not negotiate with the Palace but merely fights it”– was a case in point.

The Good Party (IP) held an emergency congress on Sunday to replace its chairperson, Meral Akşener, with Müsavat Dervişoğlu.

The Republican People's Party's (CHP) current and previous leaders are fighting over the kind of politics that the movement should embrace in the future.

Since taking over as chairperson of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Özgür Özel has notably distanced himself from his "polemicist" style of his tenure as minority whip. Many wonder why the new Republican leader, who adopted this approach prior to the March 31 municipal elections and remained committed to it thereafter, is doing what he is doing and how long he intends to do it.

CHP's campaign issues and intraparty brawl as local vote looms

Türkiye’s municipal election remains approximately one month away, but the political parties have been running low-intensity campaigns. In other words, we have not yet witnessed strongly worded statements, serious alienation or significant polarization – an absence of the "survival" discourse.

CHP's campaign issues and intraparty brawl as local vote looms
CHP's contribution to Erdoğan's local election campaign

CHP's contribution to Erdoğan's local election campaign

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s municipal election campaign rests on two pillars. The first relates to the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) ongoing success and vision for the future – which its election manifesto highlighted with reference to resilient cities and public services and works. The movement showcased its ability by delivering homes to the survivors of the Feb. 6, 2023 earthquakes earlier this week. That Erdoğan’s administration built 75,000 homes by the disaster’s anniversary and pledged to increase that number to 200,000 by the end of 2024 sent a clear message to the electorate: “The AK Party is great at solving problems, implementing projects and delivering services. No other party can compete with it in those fields.”


With the 2024 municipal elections just 53 days away, the People’s Alliance has momentum, while the opposition parties have failed to form alliances. The main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), built electoral alliances in 2019 and 2023. This time around, it has no choice but to collaborate with the pro-PKK Green Left Party (YSP), informally known as the Peoples' Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party), which succeeded the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), in some provinces. It is no secret that the potential partnership between the CHP and YSP in Istanbul would be facilitated by Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu – which would open him up to criticism from the People’s Alliance, as well as the Good Party (IP). Meanwhile, Başak Demirtaş’s seeming interest in running for mayor suggests that the CHP might have to campaign alone in Istanbul. She is, of course, the wife of jailed ex-HDP Chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş. Such a development would make “grassroots as opposed to intraparty cooperation” the only option on the table, but the main opposition party has been handling the situation in a very fragmented and counterproductive manner.

With the opposition trying to cope with the controversy over mayoral nominations, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) unveiled its 2024 municipal election manifesto on Tuesday.

The United States has been doing almost everything to otherize and alienate Türkiye throughout the last decade. The damaging steps taken by the last three U.S. governments, namely Barack Obama, Donald Trump and the current Joe Biden administrations, show that anti-Türkiye policy has become the state policy.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) mayoral candidates in 26 provinces, including Istanbul, on Sunday.

Türkiye’s main opposition leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, lost the race for Republican People’s Party (CHP) chairperson to Özgür Özel over the weekend.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chairperson, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, rejected President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call on all political parties to draft a new constitution – as expected. Besides questioning the current administration’s legitimacy, on which he blames his latest election defeat, the CHP chairperson urged his former allies not to negotiate with the ruling People’s Alliance: “The six opposition leaders shared their views on the constitution with the public already. We have signed that document and unveiled it. As journalists, you are welcome to ask the other leaders why they choose to invalidate their signatures.”

The Good Party (IP) Chairperson Meral Akşener continues to confront the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and the “table for six.” Recalling that she “drank the hemlock” for Kılıçdaroğlu’s victory, she recently said that “there is no such thing as the Nation Alliance anymore” and that “the IP and CHP are rivals.”

The Good Party (IP) took another step toward contesting next year’s municipal elections without joining any alliance as Kürşad Zorlu, the movement’s spokesperson, announced their decision to field mayoral candidates in all 81 provinces. As such, IP Chairperson Meral Akşener shut the door on a potential alliance with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) – at least for now.

The attempt by the Good Party (IP) chairperson, Meral Akşener, not to form any alliances for next year’s municipal elections continues to set the political agenda in Türkiye. The current situation does not just highlight the opposition’s ongoing crisis. It also reflects on the May 2023 coalition that the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) spearheaded. That is why Akşener’s new discourse, on top of the CHP’s internal strife and "change" debate, remains the subject of a heated political debate.

Good Party (IP) Chairperson Meral Akşener is doubling down on “fielding mayoral candidates individually.” Although the People’s Alliance, led by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), talks about contesting mayoral races with “battering ram” candidates, Akşener remains inclined to get her party’s General Executive Council to make that decision permanent. She does not heed the warning of pro-Republican People’s Party (CHP) commentators that opposition mayors will not get reelected under the circumstances either.

It is no secret that the opposition Good Party (IP), the Victory Party (ZP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) fueled xenophobia in Türkiye with reference to Syrian asylum-seekers and illegal migration ahead of the May 2023 elections. The opposition’s joint presidential candidate and CHP chair, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, built his campaign around anti-refugee sentiment – which effectively triggered the negative side effects of the cost of living. It seems highly likely that the CHP and the rest will resort to the same tactics for next year’s municipal elections.

As the Good Party (IP) Chairperson Meral Akşener’s criticism of the opposition alliance sets the political agenda, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who lost the 2023 presidential race, refuses to respond to Akşener or any right-wing party. Despite having formed the "grand coalition," he keeps mum and politely ignores questions from reporters.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan heavily criticized Türkiye’s opposition parties last week, arguing that he had failed to encounter “an opposition of our caliber and quality.” Recalling those opposition leaders refused to learn from their mistakes despite losing 17 times in a row, the president complained that the main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), could not “alter its fascist DNA” and engaged in fascist behavior by questioning the legitimacy of the ballot box.