Turkey seems to be solely focused on the local elections to be held on Sunday, as, since the corruption scandal which came to light on Dec. 17, 2013, these are more than municipal polls for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the results are considered a critical test for the government in terms of public faith in beleaguered Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AK Party.
While the government is ensnared in a graft investigation allegedly targeting several ministers and their families, and Erdoğan’s reputation has suffered as well, many commentators agree that they have never experienced such political turmoil prior to the local polls. They share the opinion that the country is facing an extraordinary election atmosphere when compared with previous experiences, due to the corruption allegations.
The upcoming presidential election, scheduled for Aug. 10, also seems to be being taken into account by political parties prior to the local elections, since there are rumors that Erdoğan will reshape his political calculations, including running for the presidency, according to the election results. Erdoğan and other political parties’ political calculations for the presidential election will be designed in accordance with the share of the vote that the AK Party receives. In the event that Erdoğan’s AK Party garners more than 40 percent, Erdoğan’s hopes for the presidency will be revived. But if the party suffers a crushing defeat, his hopes of being president will seem to fade. It has been predicted that if the popularity of the AK Party drops significantly against the background of the wide-reaching corruption scandals that have shaken the government, Erdoğan might even be obliged to leave politics.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, as well the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which has allegedly made a deal with the AK Party to act as an election ally, are conducting very active campaigns through rallies across Turkey, contributing to the creation of a general election atmosphere.
On the reasons making the local elections assume the characteristics of general elections, Ersin Kalaycıoğlu, a prominent professor of political science, points to Erdoğan’s struggle to elude the ever-widening corruption scandal and the possibility of being called to account before the Constitutional Court because of the accusations.
According to Kalaycıoğlu, Erdoğan believes that he will be able to escape such an investigation through the vote, adding: “Erdoğan expects to get considerable support from the voters in order to avoid standing trial. But this is a dangerous delusion, because the share of the vote cannot obstruct accountability before the law anywhere.”… see more