COMMENT: Five professionals give their take on what will happen in Turkey’s weekend elections

COMMENT: Five professionals give their take on what will happen in Turkey’s weekend elections
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, seen in a banner put up during Turkey's 2015 elections, is challenging Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the presidency. / Alparslan Esmer, VoA, public domain.
By bne IntelIiNews May 10, 2023

bne IntelliNews’ correspondent in Turkey spoke to five urban middle-class professionals at random for their views on what will happen in the country’s May 14 elections, in which Kemal Kilicdaroglu will challenge incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the presidency and the six-party Nation Alliance coalition, as well as the pro-Kurdish Democratic People’s Party (the HDP, which has  put forward its candidates on the Green Left (YSP) "back-up" party ticket for fear the courts would shut it down prior to polling day), will attempt to dislodge the control over parliament exercised by Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and junior ruling coalition partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Here's what they had to say:

Ayten, 30, a journalist: “I think the [presidential] election will go to the second round and Kilicdaroglu has a high chance of winning because he has the united opposition supporting him [including the endorsement of his candidacy by the pro-Kurdish HDP that is the third largest party in Turkey’s parliament]. But I find it hard to imagine Erdogan handing over power to the opposition… I don’t think Erdogan can win in the first round, which is what most of the opinion polls suggest.

Hande, 40, NGO employee/40: “Under normal circumstances, the opposition should win. But the AKP will do whatever it takes to have the election results cancelled. It will challenge the results. It will call for a recount in all cities and all ballot boxes, which will take days. If the opposition is not well coordinated, the elections may well be cancelled.”

Ayse, 34, social worker: “It is difficult to predict the results because we are worried about widespread vote-rigging. People fear that those in power would do anything not to lose. The opposition is running a very good campaign and I believe it will win by a thin margin provided that the elections are fair. If it wins and comes to power, the opposition will have huge challenges, it will inherit enormous problems from the AKP government. Change will take a long time but I am expecting the ‘winds of democracy’ to blow if the opposition comes to power. However, most of the parties in the opposition coalition are right-wing parties, so I am not sure if we will really have a democracy.”

Osman, 49, editor: “The opposition candidate will get around 53% of the votes in the first round [of the presidential vote, enough for a victory, with no need for a second-round run-off]. However, the AKP will try to resort to all means to remain in power. No matter how hard the AKP tries, the results will not change, and the opposition will emerge victorious. After the elections, hopes will run high on restoring democracy in the country and the opposition will face an uphill battle to repair the damage the AKP has inflicted over the past 21 years. But many wounds will heal, most of the damage will be repaired slowly.”

Mulla, 42, health worker: “Kilicdaroglu will win in the second round [of the presidential vote] but the AKP-led coalition will take a majority in parliament. The opposition coalition will then need support from the HDP-led Green Left grouping which will cause friction among the coalition partners. Under the scenario that Erdogan concedes, the Turkish lira initially gain in value against foreign currencies. However, I cannot dismiss an alternative scenario in which Erdogan will refuse to hand over power despite his defeat, which will lead to total chaos and economic collapse. Then we cannot do anything else but leave the country.”