Oct 20 2018

AKP to suffer greatest loss in Turkey’s 2019 local elections, says pollster

Turkey’s leading Justice and Development Party (AKP) will continue to lose voters to ally far-right nationalist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the upcoming 2019 local elections as it has lost its ability to connect with the general public, the Eurasia Public Opinion Research Centre (AKAM) Chairman Kemal Özkiraz told independent news site Diken.

Turkey’s local elections will be held on March 31, 2019 throughout the 81 provinces of the country. The leading AKP, which formed an alliance with the MHP in the June parliamentary elections, won 18 out of 30 metropolitan municipalities in the 2014 local elections with 60 percent of the votes, while the MHP won merely three metropolitan municipalities, receiving 10 percent of the votes.

The AKAM chairman, while recalling that the AKP lost voters to the MHP in Turkey’s June 24 parliamentary elections, noted that this trend will intensify heading into the local elections with MHP garnering around 14-15 percent of votes this time around.

‘’AKP’s connection to society has weakened a great deal as compared to the MHP;’’ Özkiraz said. ‘’AKP has transformed into more of a state and bureaucracy party.’’

The AKP will receive an overall 38 percent votes while the CHP will see 33 percent support, narrowing the gap between Turkey’s ruling and main opposition party, Özkiraz noted.

 The pollster stressed that the AKP has for a long time pedalled the idea of the Muslim community, the ‘’ummah,’’ he said, however; the party took a ‘’sudden u-turn into nationalism’’ and the arrival of Turkey’s 3.5 million Syrian refugee community has been a factor in this transformation.

Meanwhile, the percentage of people who ten years ago said they would never vote for main opposition CHP was around 70 percent, have dropped to around 30-40 percent today, according to the AKAM Chairman.

The cities of İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir will once again play a pivotal role in the upcoming elections, Özkiraz said, particularly if the opposition produces a joint candidate.

When asked about the fate of the pro-Kurdish People’s Republican Party (HDP) in Turkey’s Southeast, where government appointed administrators (kayyim) have been running municipalities since the July 2016 coup attempt, the AKAM chairman said that the HDP will win back most municipalities, particularly in the provinces of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van.

AKP will suffer the greatest loss of votes with three to four points to the MHP and a good percentage of AKP votes will go to the CHP, he said.