Jun 08 2018

“Rejuvenated” opposition in with a chance – Journalist

Turkey’s political field is still dominated by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has led the country as Prime Minister and now President for 16 years, but the energetic performance by opposition parties shows they have a chance in elections this month if they can tap the Kurdish vote, Istanbul-based journalist Borzou Daragahi wrote for the Daily Beast.

With the Jun. 24 presidential and parliamentary elections set to usher in a new executive presidential system and do away with the role of prime minister and much of parliament’s powers, Erdoğan’s opponents have been “galvanised” by the watershed moment and the danger of a shift to autocratic rule, wrote Daragahi.

Erdoğan is facing a tough challenge at the ballot box from main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Muharrem İnce and nationalist Good Party candidate and leader Meral Akşener, who have thrown out the playbook to appeal to new demographics for the elections.

The secular CHP has thus made an effort to embrace a more religious character, while the Good Party has gone against the grain of its politicians’ nationalist past to appeal for the release of Selahattin Demirtaş, the leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

In İnce particularly, Erdoğan faces “a worthy opponent, a streetfighter who’s 10 years younger and has roots in the same rough Black Sea town of Rize that Erdogan’s family comes from,” said Daragahi.

Though Erdoğan is still by some distance the country’s most popular politician, polls indicate that, if there is no clear winner in the presidential election and it goes to a head-to-head run-off vote two weeks later, a united opposition could cause an upset and claim victory.

It is the Kurdish vote that has the power to sway these results, according to an analyst quoted by Daragahi: “The rest of the vote are consolidated. But the Kurds—no one knows which way they will sway.”