1 thought on “Erdoğanism Without Erdoğan?”

  1. – Erdoğan has consistently worked to eliminate any rivals within the AKP, and following the resignation of his son-in-law Berat Albayrak as Minister of Finance in 2020 has no successor lined up. There are two parties (polling at around 3-5% between them) founded by former senior AKP politicians, Ahmet Davutoğlu (a former Prime Minister and leader of the AKP), and Ali Babacan (a co-founder of the AKP and a former Foreign Minister and Economy Minister). Both of these would be less combative in their internal and external policies than Erdoğan has been, less autocratic, and both support a return to a parliamentary system of government.Neither is likely to pursue Erdoğan’s unorthodox low interest rate/high inflation economic strategy. So while the nationalist/Islamic strand in Turkish politics will clearly remain, it won’t be Erdoğanism.

    – The election date is not set. Erdoğan has suggested 14 May, but it could still be 18 June. He handed out electoral bribes (reduced pension age for many, increased minimum wage) in December, in time to kick in before a May election, but this plan has been knocked off course by the earthquake. It is hard to see how the earthquake will boost Erdoğan’s ratings, particularly given the policy missteps he has made so far – the slow and centralised response of the Turkish disaster authority, where the head of the disaster response department is a theologian who transferred in from the department of religious affairs; the 2019 amnesty for 75,000 buildings that were not compliant with building regulations; the furious attacks on journalists and any critics of the government’s response, including football fans; and so on. The provinces affected are AKP heartlands, so a loss of support there for the AKP would have disproportionate national effect.

    – There have been suggestions that the election should be postponed, but it’s hard to see constitutionally how Erdoğan could do this. The constitution says parliament can defer elections by a year in time of war, presumably by simple majority. It doesn’t explicitly say that a state of emergency is grounds for deferment. Turkey is not at war, nor in a state of violent unrest or economic collapse which would qualify as a national emergency. It is a bit too close to the election to create a crisis (e.g. Kurdish terror attack, or confrontation with Greece over an island, perhaps Kastellorizo) around which Erdoğan could demonstrate that he was the only strong leader who would defend the Turkish nation. Given the war in Ukraine this gets difficult – any external crisis would leave Turkey internationally isolated. And they do still want to buy more F-16s from the US. Postponing the election would also be politically risky: there would be demonstrations against deferment, especially in the main cities which all have opposition mayors.

    – The MHP only started working with the AKP after the AKP lost its majority in parliament in the 2015 elections and abandoned its efforts to woo the Kurdish vote. The MHP could desert the AKP, especially if Erdoğan was gone, when they might think that the MHP could capture some of the AKP vote. The pre-earthquake polling for the parliamentary election shows that the AKP would only have a slight lead over the CHP, and that whilst it would still be the biggest single party in parliament, it would not have an overall majority (it doesn’t have one at the moment – it depends on confidence and supply support from the MHP).

    – All the pre-earthquake polling shows that Erdoğan would get less than 45% of the vote in the presidential election, so it would go to a second round runoff against whoever came second. Erdoğan is only 5 years younger than Kılıçdaroğlu, and if Kılıçdaroğlu has the full support of the young and dynamic CHP mayors of Ankara and Istanbul, the CHP could paint Erdoğan as the knackered old man who is out of touch after 23 years in power, entirely responsible for everything wrong with Turkey, and exhausted. If not Kılıçdaroğlu, the political ban on Istanbul mayor Imamoğlu is being appealed and has not yet been enacted.
    How fast his case goes through the judicial system is open to question – perhaps not before May.

    – The pro-Kurdish HDP consistently poll around 10% of the vote so being a bit softer on the Kurdish issue would give any CHP presidential candidate some electoral advantage.

    – The Alevi/Kurd angle will play to Erdoğan’s Islamist/nationalist base, but not to the centre ground, which is where the election will be won.

    – All opposition parties want a return to parliamentary democracy, so they should be able to deliver this if they have a majority in parliament and there is a CHP President.

    – The electoral commission is formed of judicial appointees but there are non-voting representatives of the 4 biggest parties: ‘Also, the law provides that the four political parties that garnered the highest number of votes in the last parliamentary elections may nominate one regular and one substitute representatives to the Supreme Election Council, providing that those political party leader has assigned them. These representatives may take place in all activities but are unable to vote.’ So it is not exactly ‘government-controlled’.

    – The Turkish economy is now effectively dollarised because of the unreliability of the Turkish Lira. De-dollarising would require conventional economic policies to try and rebuild confidence in the TL as a currency, but this would be a long and painful haul.

    – All that said, ‘everyone’ says that Erdoğan will win the election (and William Hill are quoting 2/9 for an Erdoğan win, and 3/1 for ANY other candidate). But when you try to dig into how he will do this there are no answers. The money is on Erdoğan to win but the practicalities of how this will happen are unclear.

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