Zülfikar Doğan
May 13 2018

Erdoğan currently has 42.5% support, a second round of voting likely - polling company head

Özer Sencar, the head of major Turkish pollster Metropoll Research, while speaking to Ahval News, predicted that there will be a 50 percent or higher chance that Turkey's presidential and parliamentary elections, set to take place on June 24, will go onto the second round of voting.

The latest Metropoll data, according to Sencar, suggests that Turkish President Recep Erdoğan will receive 42.5 percent of the vote. If none of the presidential candidates reach 50 percent of the votes in the first round of the presidential elections, then the two candidates who receive the highest number of votes will go onto the second round.  Should this happen, the second round will be held on July 8.

On April 18, Erdoğan called for snap presidential and parliamentary elections to be held June 24, nearly 18 months ahead of November 2019, as was scheduled. The June 24 elections will be used by President Erdoğan to cement stronger executive powers gained from last year’s controversial presidential constitutional referendum.

The political parties campaigning for the 600 seats that are up for grabs in Parliament in the June 24 election include the incumbent right-wing Justice and Development Party (AKP), far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), center-left and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), left-wing Kurdish-backed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the newly-founded center-right Good (İYİ) Party, and the far-right Islamist Felicity Party (Saadet Partisi, SP).

On May 10, Turkish Parliament released a list of the presidential candidates, which include President Erdoğan (AKP), Muharrem Ince (CHP), Meral Akşener (Good Party), Selahattin Demirtaş (HDP), Temel Karamollaoglu (SP), and Doğu Perinçek, chairman of the left-wing Vatan Party.

Support for the AKP after the ‘victory of Afrin’ – a Turkish-led operation to capture the Syrian northwestern city of Afrin following two months of active combat – was beginning to wane, as per Metropoll’s latest data.

Metropoll’s current poll showed that the ‘Cumhur Ittifaki’ (the People’s Alliance) – an alliance between the ruling AKP and the MHP – will receive 43-43.5 percent of the vote in the parliamentary elections.

“This shows that the 'Afrin effect' is starting to regress and decline. There is a mass of 5-7 percent of AKP supporters who, while supporting his party, will not vote for Erdoğan as president. In my opinion, there is at least a 50 percent chance that the presidential elections will go onto the second round,” Sencar said.

“Support for the AKP was at 41.4 percent in January. In February, the Afrin effect increased this to 42.9 percent and 44.5 percent in March. At the time of our latest research poll in April, the support had declined to 43.3 percent. Now the first polls in May range between 40-42 percent, demonstrating a decline. But if the final results range between 43-44 percent, the additional votes are from the Afrin effect. On the other hand, MHP support decreased by 5-6 percent. I don’t think it will go down any further.”

Opposition parties recently announced their own alliance - the Millet Ittifaki (Nation Alliance), which is composed of the CHP, Good Party, SP, and the center-right Democrat Party (DP).

Meral
Good Party presidential candidate Meral Akşener

 

“The Nation Alliance was established only last week. But the People’s Alliance was in the public eye before that. Alliances sometimes bring in votes; sometimes they take them away. Ninety-percent of AKP voters say they’ll vote for the People’s Alliance. That is to say, the AKP has 43 percent of the vote, meaning that 39 percent of this comes from AKP supporters of the alliance, and 80 percent of the MHP supporters say they are going to vote for the alliance. The MHP’s share of the vote stands at 5.8 percent. From this, the alliance gets four percentage points. So, according to my latest research, the People’s Alliance will receive 43 percent of the vote.”

“The Nation Alliance has just been established. In this month’s poll, we are asking people to vote for two alliances and the HDP. Of course, we will also ask about the presidential candidates now that they have been made known. Some colleagues publish an hourly poll, showing that Good Party presidential candidate Meral Akşener is at 27 percent and CHP presidential candidate İnce at 15-17 percent. There’s no such measurement. First of all, the CHP’s voter base falls between 21-23 percent.  İnce is the CHP’s presidential candidate, and to begin with, he’ll get all of that vote. What he can or will add to that we’ll see in our research. If the CHP had nominated [party leader] Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as their presidential candidate, he wouldn't have even gotten his own vote. In this respect, I find İnce is a very good choice."C

Muharrem İnce
CHP presidential candidate Muharrem İnce

 

Sencar underscored that there was still a relatively high number of ‘’swing voters,’’ at around 10-15 percent.

The head of Metropoll commented on how limited the information coming from polls are, saying, "Unfortunately, we cannot measure our fears, concerns, and anxieties in the polls. When we ask people which party or candidate they will vote for, they refrain from telling us their true preferences because of the current environment. Even though someone might not vote for the AKP, they say that they will. I think the ones who conceal their real choices out of fear and pressure are the ones who say that they will vote for the ruling party and the People's Alliance. Because of this, there is such a segment in the shares of the vote that we have assigned to the AKP, MHP, the coalition, and the floater vote. They are afraid to let their preference be known and say that they are not going to vote or are undecided. Or they say that they are going to vote for the AKP or MHP because it's the least risky."

Professor Sencar highlighted that the HDP's share of votes - which is set at around 10 percent seen at this stage - does not seem to be a problem in meeting the 10 percent threshold needed to enter Turkish Parliament.

"In this respect, the HDP's existence and representation in Parliament is vital for Turkish politics. I don't think it'll be a problem in the big cities, but it'll be very important to protect the ballot boxes in the southeastern provinces. It's necessary that the HDP looks after and engages in serious cooperation with other opposition parties - the CHP, the Good Party, the SP, and other parties in the region -  for the security of the ballot boxes in the countryside. HDP's crossing the threshold to enter Parliament means that 70-80, or even 90, members of Parliament will be written into AKP territory. In this regard, my opinion is that the constituency who uses their votes strategically will come into play, like we saw with the June 7, 2015 elections. The percentage of such voters is around 5 percent. This is a segment that follows politics, sees what will happen, and uses their votes accordingly. In the June 7, 2015 elections, HDP received 13.5 percent of the vote from at least 2-2.5 percent of voters who voted strategically. In particular, the CHP electorate provided voting support so the HDP could surpass the threshold. After the election, HDP presidential candidate Demirtaş and some other HDP officials made statements and comments that the vote belongs to them, and this strategic electorate acted oppositely on December 1 and said 'I voted for the HDP even though I'm a Turk, but look at what has been done and said.' In my opinion, the votes will come from this electorate, so HDP doesn't risk not meeting the threshold, especially in bigger cities. I think that HDP will be more careful in the statements it makes."

Selocan
HDP presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş

 

According to Sencar, current data shows that the possibility that the presidential elections will go to the second round is at around 50 percent or higher. He said, "When we asked people who they would like to be president without naming CHP candidate İnce, the vote for Erdoğan was 42.5 percent. That is Erdoğan's vote. But my opinion is that there's a 50 percent or more chance there will be a second round," he said.

"There is around 5-7 percent of the electorate that is breaking from the AKP. Besides this, the Kurdish voters will be determined in the second round. Whoever gains votes from the Kurdish electorate and those who broke away from the AKP will win the presidency. At the moment, Erdoğan is set to face İnce or Akşener in the second round. However, if İnce doesn’t lose any of the CHP votes after entering the field, then it’ll be likely that he’ll go onto the second round.

İnce is CHP's candidate. Therefore, they must carry out an extremely convincing campaign in the next 1.5 months in order to be able to get the votes from voters who have parted ways with the AKP, and they need to attract that segment and the Kurdish bloc through their promises of what they will do, suggestions and their political discourse. The priority is to convince those who have broken away from the AKP that they won't be treated unfairly  based on their faith and that they will not be placed under pressure. The second priority is the economy. The Turkish economy is in a terrible state, and this segment of society wants to be convinced that the economy and its problems can be managed and solved.

İnce needs to be persuasive and trustworthy on these two subjects. If he succeeds and people think that they won't be hassled over their faith, lifestyle, or headscarves and that the economic problems will be solved, then İnce will win. It doesn't seem impossible. I'm not saying this based on data and research. I'm saying this based on my experiences and observations. Just three days ago, an opposition alliance in Malaysia took over a 60-year-old regime. In Italy, voters threw a curveball at politicians and opinion polls.

A different election resulted in the end. If we proceed using the figures from April, İnce remains in the second round. When we look at the current data from the second round, the total vote from the CHP + HDP + Good Party bloc is slightly over 45 percent. The candidate against Erdoğan should get the 5-7 percent of the electorate who is distancing themselves from the AKP as well as the AKP electorate. İf İnce will be able to persuade them by saying, 'I won't make you regret this, I won't create problems related to your head scarves or beliefs, you'll be free in all apsects, we'll all be equal compatriots,' and if he'll be able to gain their trust in solving economic problems, then he'll become president. And it won't be a surprise at all.”

İnce's handicap in the second round will be attracting the people who have broken away from the AKP. If Akşener goes through to the second round, then there might be a better chance that they will give cast their votes to her. But Akşener’s greatest hurdle would be in winning the Kurdish electorate in the second round.”