Jun 28 2018

No way through to AKP voters for Turkish opposition – researcher

Turkey’s opposition must build on its partial success in the Jun. 24 elections, in which opposition parties lost despite running a more dynamic and collaborative campaign than in previous years, said think tank researcher Sinan Ekim in a piece published in the Berlin Policy Journal on Thursday.

However, it will be difficult for opposition parties to reach and try to persuade citizens who voted for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), since the government is in control of the vast majority of Turkey’s media and half of AKP do not use the internet, said Ekim.

The short time frame allowed for the electoral campaign after Erdoğan called for snap elections eighteen months ahead of schedule did not allow sufficient time for the newly founded nationalist Good Party and the Islamist Felicity Party to reach the conservative voters they might have poached from the ruling party and its far-right alliance partners the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

A more decisive factor in the local elections, upcoming in 2019, could be Turkey’s economy, which has been in danger of spiralling into a full-blown crisis due to the rapidly devaluing Turkish lira, a skyrocketing cost of living, a large current account deficit, and almost half a trillion dollars of foreign debt.

Added to this is Erdoğan’s reluctance to raise interest rates, due to his reliance on large-scale public projects for growth, said Ekim.

Whether the economy or a rejuvenated opposition becomes the biggest threat to the ruling party in the coming years, Turkey’s democratic spirit is not dead, and millions have proven in the last election they desire a return to liberal democracy, said Ekim.