The Economist: Erdogan is expected to defeat the opposition in Türkiye’s elections

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Türkiye is witnessing the most important elections in its history since the founding of the Republic 100 years ago, in which Erdogan, who has ruled the country for nearly two decades, seeks to win a new presidential term, and the ruling Justice and Development Party seeks to retain the parliamentary majority.

The veteran president faces a candidate backed by Türkiye’s six-party opposition alliance, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, 74, who’s the head of the country’s second-largest party, and seeks to overthrow Erdogan, who has ruled the country for two decades and transformed the country.

Member of NATO, and made Türkiye’s economy one of the major economies in emerging markets.

Although recent opinion polls show Kılıçdaroğlu’s progress by a slight percentage, the analysis of the Economist’s Information Unit predicted that the current president would win, observing a number of reasons, including those related to the president himself, and others related to the country’s economic and political conditions.

It’s expected that the elections will witness fierce competition, and that the result will be very close.

However, we expect that the president who has ruled Türkiye for 20 years will add a new presidential term, as the percentage of undecided voters (swing voters) is high and exceeds 13%.

President Erdogan will benefit from his long history of successes since taking over, his charismatic personality, and his conservative voter base,

According to the analysis, which monitored other factors in favor of the president, and will likely have the final say in the final outcome.

Economist’s analysis also monitored other elements related to the “election economy, as he described it, in reference to the multiple measures taken by President Erdogan’s government to relieve citizens of the burdens of the economic crisis, including, for example, raising the maximum wage, lowering the retirement age, and issuing other measures related to postponing or Reducing taxes and fees due to the state.

The six-party opposition table in Türkiye decided to nominate Kılıçdaroğlu for the presidency after many differences.

The Turkish government had begun to implement these measures during the year 2022, after the economic crisis caused a significant decline in the value of the Turkish Lira against the US dollar, as the war in Ukraine, which broke out on February 24, 2022, and Russia describes it as a “special military operation,” led While the West describes it as an “unjustified aggressive invasion,” it has fueled the economic crisis around the world.

On the other hand, however, the way the Turkish president dealt with the Russian attack on Ukraine led to praise for him and strengthened support for him remarkably, according to a report by the Washington Post, published earlier this year, entitled “The most important elections in the world during 2023 will be in Türkiye”.

He shed light on the reasons and circumstances that make this election race so important, not only for Türkiye, but for the world as well.

Despite the ferocity of the elections this time and the intensification of the competition in a way that makes it difficult to determine its outcome, whether for the position of president or for choosing the parliament that will form the government, the only point on which there is consensus is the importance it has.

The results of the Turkish elections, whatever they are, will have a direct impact on the formulation of geopolitical calculations in Washington and Moscow, in addition to capitals in Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa as well: “What happens in Türkiye won’t remain in Türkiye only,” said Zia Meral, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies told the Washington Post, adding that “Türkiye may be a middle power, but the major powers will be affected by the results of the elections in Ankara”.

There’s no doubt that the Turkish role and influence in international affairs is a testament to Erdogan’s achievements during his two decades at the helm of power in the country.

Despite this, the Turkish opposition’s quest to overthrow the president finds echoes and sympathizers outside Türkiye as well.

According to The Economist, which expects Erdogan to win, “the elections represent a historic opportunity to defeat the president, but it remains a very slim chance”.

But the outcome of this election won’t only determine who will rule Türkiye, but also how it will rule the country in the next stage.

What Turkish voters will decide on May 14 is also related to the economic path that Türkiye will take, and its role in mitigating global and regional conflicts, such as the war in Ukraine and the turmoil in the Middle East.

In this context, the opposition bloc pledged to undo many of Erdogan’s policies in the economy, political affairs, and foreign policy, which adds another major dimension that makes many consider the elections the most important in the 100-year history of the republic.

The announcement of Kılıçdaroğlu’s selection as a major candidate was accompanied by 12-item amendments, which opposition parties pledged to implement in the event of winning the elections, the most prominent of which is related to the method of government itself, as they say they will change the current presidential system to the parliamentary system.

The “Six-Party Table”, the opposition bloc, had announced a roadmap consisting of 12 articles for managing the country after the elections, and these items came as follows:

1- Türkiye will be managed in the transitional phase through consultation and consensus, in light of the principles and objectives of the strengthened parliamentary system, and the reference texts that we agreed upon, and within the framework of the constitution, the law, the separation of powers, and the foundations of budgeting and oversight.

2- The constitutional amendments related to the transition to an enhanced parliamentary system will be completed, to enter into force as soon as possible under the umbrella of the parliament that will be formed after the elections.

3- The heads of the other five parties will be vice presidents of the republic during the transitional period.

4- The ministerial portfolios will be distributed among the political parties forming the Nation Alliance according to the number of representatives of these parties elected in the parliamentary elections.

While at least a ministerial portfolio will represent each of these parties in the government, while the offices and policy councils belonging to the presidency of the republic, which were established in parallel with the ministries, will be abolished.

5- The appointment and removal of ministers will be through consultation with the heads of the parties to which the ministers belong.

6- The President of the Republic will use his executive authority during the transitional period in accordance with the principles of participation, consultation and consensus.

7- The powers and tasks of the Council of Ministers and Vice-Presidents are distributed through a presidential decree within the framework of the constitution and laws.

8- The President of the Republic will make decisions on re-election, declaration of a state of emergency, national security policies, presidential decisions, general organizational actions, and appointments to senior positions; In agreement with the leaders of the parties in the Nation Alliance.

9- Mechanisms will be established to coordinate cooperation in the legislative process during the transitional period.

10- The membership of the president of the partisan republic – if it exists – will end as soon as the process of transition to the enhanced parliamentary system is completed.

11- After the transition to the enhanced parliamentary system, the President of the Republic and members of Parliament will continue their duties, without the need for re-elections.

12- The mayors of Ankara and Istanbul will be appointed as vice presidents of the republic, at the time the president deems appropriate, and within specific duties.

As for the chances of the Freedom and Justice Party winning a majority in the next parliament, the Economist’s analysis expects that the party won’t be able to do so, but that doesn’t mean, of course, that the party will switch to opposition seats, as the matter depends – if those expectations are fulfilled – on the number of seats it may lose.

The Justice and Development Party is the ruling party that has led Türkiye since 2002, after its founding on August 14, 2001, by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who heads it until now.

The party is currently the strongest in Parliament, with 285 seats, and the party has been allied since 2018 with the National Movement party, and it is the fourth strongest party in Parliament with 48 seats.

Current opinion polls indicate that the presidential election race will be very intense this time, although the recent splits in the ranks of the opposition coalition may be in favor of President Erdogan’s party, as the opposition coalition lacks harmony in general principles and directions.

In this context, the withdrawal of one of the main leaders of the opposition coalition, Meral Akşener, the leader of the Good party, which dissented from the National Movement Party since 2017, before returning once again to the six-party table, was a remarkable indication of these differences.

Akşener had announced, on Friday, March 3, the withdrawal from the six-party table, and considered that Kılıçdaroğlu lacked the support of public opinion, and couldn’t defeat Erdogan in the presidential elections.

The opposition politician wanted to nominate one of the mayors of Istanbul and Ankara, who belong to the Republican People’s Party.

As for Kılıçdaroğlu, he has previously argued that Mansur Yavaş and Ekrem İmamoğlu the mayors of the two municipalities respectively, should remain in office to avoid new elections that could return either city to the administration.

The opposition, led by Kılıçdaroğlu, a former civil servant, is focusing on exploiting the economic crisis and high inflation, in addition to the earthquakes that struck Türkiye last February, and initially sparked criticism of the state’s response to the disaster, to question Erdogan’s leadership and win the elections.

The conclusion here is that the Turkish elections, whether for the seat of the president or seats in parliament, are open to all possibilities, and their results will most likely be very close, given their extreme importance, not only to the Turks, but to the region and major powers around the world.

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