‘Stability is not on the horizon for Turkey’ - political scientist

Irrespective of the results of the elections in Turkey on June 24, the country will likely witness another period of political uncertainty, as the political class, the bureaucracy, and the society at large will try to adapt to the new presidential system, political scientist Emre Erdoğan said on Friday.

People in Turkey will both vote for the new president and the members of the parliament on June 24, however, if none of the candidates manages to win enough votes, the new president will be elected in the second round on July 8. The AKP formed an alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for the parliamentary elections, while the opposition parties, Republican People’s Party (CHP), İYİ Party, Felicty Party, and the Democrat Party, established the Nation Alliance, excluding the mainly-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party. 

According to Emre Erdoğan, contrary to what some believe, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) might not lose votes due to recent economic developments in Turkey— foreign exchange fluctuations, increased inflation, and rising unemployment —, as voters today tend to adjust their economic perceptions according to their partisan affiliation. As an indication of that perspective, a recent survey shows that the supporters of the AKP and the MHP are much more optimistic on the economy compared to the constituencies of opposition parties. Hence, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may succeed in winning enough votes to become president in the first round of elections by consolidating his supporters against the opposition and convincing them to ignore the crude facts of the economy.

“If the same alliance wins the presidency and controls a majority in the parliament, there will not be a governability problem, but this does not ensure stability,” Emre Erdoğan said, noting that though AKP has had control of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches since 2015, the country still experiences political and economic instability.

“Moreover, if different parties or alliances win the presidential and parliamentary elections, governability will be a major issue as Turkey’s political culture does not favour cohabitation,” Emre Erdoğan added. In his opinion, such a result may lead to a series of political crises and trigger early presidential and parliamentary elections.

Emre Erdoğan noted that before every election, there is a tendency to believe that stability is on the horizon. “In reality, irrespective of the results of these elections, we will likely witness another period of political uncertainty in Turkey during which the political class, the bureaucracy, and the society at large will try to adapt to the new system of government, namely the presidential system,” he said. 

Social polarisation, economic downturn, and the upcoming local elections to take place in less than a year will make this adaptation process even more difficult, while foreign policy issues, such as the relations with the United States and the European Union, will put additional pressure on the new government. “In conclusion, any expectation that these elections will lead to normalisation of Turkish politics and normalisation of Turkey’s relations with allies will likely end in disappointment,” Emre Erdoğan said.