The battle of polls rages on with the Turkish elections less than 60 days away. Pro-opposition pollsters have been projecting a landslide victory for Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the prominent opposition leader, as surveys on opposition-dominated social media platforms serve as an echo chamber.
It would be impossible to argue that any social media poll should be taken seriously, as experts warn that even polls conducted on the phone may be unreliable.
The opposition uses such polls to argue to claim that their campaign has already gained momentum, attempting to consolidate their base. Yet no public relations campaign could cover the decline in the Good Party’s (IP) popular support or the shift toward the Homeland Party (MP).
As emotions run high within the Nation Alliance, the People’s Alliance remains far more cautious. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ministers have been busy with temporary housing arrangements and constructing new homes in the disaster zone. Starting this week, they will start working on candidate lists and begin to launch their election campaign.
Mustafa Şen, a deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said last week, citing the party’s internal polls, that Erdoğan may receive over 53% of the vote in the presidential election. That statement reflects the confidence of People’s Alliance voters in Erdoğan’s triumph. They believe that the Turkish president, who will run one last time, is the only person that can win this election.
It is possible to argue that the pro-Republican People’s Party (CHP) media have been promoting Kılıçdaroğlu against the backdrop of attempts to talk Muharrem Ince, the MP chair, from running, and negotiations with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) because the opposition eyes a first-round victory.
Likewise, the People’s Alliance has been in talks with the Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR) and the New Welfare Party (YRP) for that purpose.
If Ince and several others were to contest the presidential election, the race might end in the second round. In other words, the parliamentary election will take place on May 14, and the president will be elected two weeks later – for the first time. In this sense, there is no historical point of reference to help observers predict whether voters would pick Erdoğan or Kılıçdaroğlu with all parliamentary seats already allocated. If the People’s Alliance or the Nation Alliance were to have the parliamentary majority, which presidential candidate would the Turkish people elect – and why? We will find that out for the first time in a second-round election is needed.
Both alliances will do everything possible to help their candidate win the presidency in the first round. That is why they are in talks with various political parties with no current affiliation.
A serious problem
With both alliances fighting for victory, the Nation Alliance using pollsters excessively for propaganda may create a severe problem. If Kılıçdaroğlu’s very vocal supporters end up believing that they have already won the election, they might be traumatized on the night of May 14.
The quietness of the AK Party and Erdoğan must not fool them. We have repeatedly seen supposedly undecided voters, who did not participate in surveys, overwhelmingly cast their votes for Erdoğan on election day.
Some pollsters, who projected just months before the 2018 election that the CHP and its presidential candidate would win, are doing the same thing now. Ultimately, their actions psychologically challenge CHP voters – not the AK Party base.
Let me stress that both alliances will have to work very hard to win the upcoming elections. However, with approximately two months, whichever side can mobilize their voters will win.