Turkiye Political Atmosphere for 2023 – Imamoğlu Case
Turkiye Political Atmosphere for 2023 – Imamoğlu Case
Turkiye Political Atmosphere for 2023
As the 2023 elections approach, Turkiye is going through an intense political agenda. The polarization and political atmosphere in Turkiye is more intense than ever This intensity will undoubtedly increase as the election day approaches. In recent years, Turkiye had already gone through several general and local elections and a major referendum regarding its constitution.
The 2023 election, on the other hand, is different from the previous ones – or, at least, the public puts unique meanings into it: The 100th Anniversary of the Republic, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s candidacy for one last time, an choice between the autocratic presidential regime and the democratic parliamentary regime, the fact that around six million voters are young people to vote for the first time, the election to be held in the most severe economic conditions of the last 20 years, “that single brick will be pulled away so the entire wall will collapse” (regarding the corruption issues), the opposition’s new brave strategies that were hidden for the last 20 years and so on… We are approaching an election, which takes on a different meaning depending on who you ask.
Looking at the political results for November 2022 polls, the AK Party’s share of the vote was 25.7% and the main opposition party CHP’s share of the vote was 18.6%, without the distribution of undecided voters. In terms of success points, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan remains at the top of the list, while İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener is in second place.
According to the November poll results, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan remains at the top of the list with 5.2 points. He is followed by İYİ Party leader Akşener with 4 points and MHP leader Bahçeli with 3.7 points. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is in fourth place with 3.6 points. Compared to last month, Erdoğan’s success score increased from 5.1 to 5.2, while Akşener’s score rose from 3.8 to 4. The success scores of Kılıçdaroğlu and Bahçeli remained the same. Since July, Erdoğan’s success score has increased while Kılıçdaroğlu’s has been on the decline for the last three months.
The Presidential Elections polls demonstrate a quite different scenario, It is seem that all possible Nation Alliance candidates, namely Mansur Yavaş, Ekrem İmamoğlu, Meral Akşener and Kılıçdaroğlu, will win the election against President Erdoğan. However, support for these names is also at different levels. For example, in the scenario where Yavaş is a joint candidate, Yavaş is 16 points ahead of Erdoğan. In Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy scenario, the vote rates seem very close. In this sense, the results indicate that the strongest opposition candidate is Mansur Yavaş.
- Imamoğlu Sentenced – Game Changer
The İstanbul Metropolitan Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu was sentencedto 2 years 7 months in prison over false insult charges, and he was barred from engaging political activities in a clearly political case on December 14.
It was political, the aim was not only to remove İmamoğlu from politics or eliminate a strong candidate who would challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the upcoming election. Its main purpose was also to use the judicial force to regain the İstanbul Municipality, which was handed over to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) with the 2019 local election defeat.
By this way, the ruling party would be able to continue to allocate resources from İstanbul to associations and foundations under the control of certain religious groups ahead of the 2023 elections.
However, nature took its course, too much force spoiled the game. Following the court ruling, İmamoğlu called all the opposition parties to gather in İstanbul on December 15 and received a positive response. The opposition united against the injustice done to İmamoğlu. If Erdogan wants to push his luck further, he can do two things. Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdag can influence Erdoğan’s judiciary, speed up the appeal processes, and get Imamoglu’s decision upheld before the elections. Or, the Interior Affairs Minister Süleyman Soylu can dismiss İmamoğlu without waiting for the appeal to upheld the ruling. It would not be surprising if Erdogan to try every force he has to win the 2023 election.
The Imamoglu verdict has re-energised the opposition and provided them an opportunity to rally their base beyond their traditional voters.
Imamoglu’s brand had been tarnished due to a series of mishaps, such as the mayor always being somewhere on vacation when snowstorms or floods hit the city, or his outreach to pro-government reporters in all-expenses-paid trips to other cities.
He has struggled to improve city services, partly due to the government preventing him from taking loans, and has been accused of being too close to some Erdogan-linked businessmen. Yet the sentence against him has given him a new push, rallying his mostly young base on social media, which influences public debates in Turkiye.
Secondly, intra-opposition negotiations to select a presidential candidate to challenge Erdogan in the next elections – which were likely to disqualify Imamoglu for the aforementioned reasons are now upended.
The main opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), aims to be the candidate, and the remaining six opposition leaders in the negotiation process came close to sealing the deal. But Meral Aksener, leader of the nationalist IYI Party, still opposes the agreement.
§ İmamoğlu to be popular again
So, in light of these developments, did the Six Table presidential candidate turn to İmamoğlu?
It’s a bit confusing there.
Even before Imamoglu’s verdict came down, Aksener had already given signals that intra-opposition negotiations could be derailed. For example, she has expressed discontent towards the CHP’s handling of the selection process and does not seem to believe that Kilicdaroglu could win against Erdogan.
§ Deep politics scenarios
Since last night, many scenarios have been talked about behind the backstage in politics.
Following the sentence, the opposition appears to have tightened its grip on İmamoğlu, and the political focus appears to have shifted to İmamoğlu, but the legal situation forces these scenarios to be discussed.
One of these scenarios is, as previously stated, Interior Minister Soylu dismissing İmamoğlu without waiting for the judicial process or Justice Minister Bozdağ hastening the judicial process. Another scenario is that Erdogan’s bid to move forward the election date, and thus the opposition’s announcement of candidacy, will be carried out in coordination with such an accelerated judicial process.
This court decision, which barred İmamoğlu from politics, serves as a move to force the opposition’s Table of Six to announce its candidate as soon as possible.
One scenario discussed in Ankara backstage is that if İmamoğlu is nominated as the opposition candidate and is not elected president in the first round, the appeal court may decide to uphold İmamoğlu’s conviction just after the election, preventing him from running in the second round. In this case, Erdoğan might be deemed to have won the election without the second round and without having the 50 percent of the votes.
There is a possibility that a similar lawsuit will be filed against Ankara Metropolitan Mayor Mansur Yavaş on a fabricated accusation, as he was one of the other strong candidates against Erdoğan. After the expected meeting of the Table of the Six on December 26, one has to be ready for surprises.
Finally, it is important to note that, the economy remained the most important issue on Turkiye’s agenda in 2022. Shrinkflation, the debt spiral, difficulties in making the ends meet are issues that majority of the public constantly complain about. In this economic climate, according to the Turkiye Raporu Poll which political will be the best to tackle Turkiye’s economic problems the result is quite confusing.
In November 2022, 28% of respondents chose Erdoğan. Yet a significant portion of respondents believe that no leader can overcome economic problems.
Nevertheless, Erdogan remains the most popular Political leader in many recent polls, his popularity increase thanks to his diplomatic success on international conflicts. He remains also paradoxically the leader who can solve Turkiye’s economic problems. His re-election for the Presidential elections for 2023 will not be a surprise but the decline of AKP is inevitable with a