A Glance at Presidential Election Results in Turkey

2023/05/21 | interview, political, top news

Strategic Council Online - Interview: An analyst of Turkey affairs considered the results of the first round of the elections as a kind of victory for Erdogan and said: With the victory of Kılıçdaroğlu, some regional changes might be witnessed, but in any case, it seems that the winner of the elections will face a series of internal problems and those problems will be aggravated if Kılıçdaroğlu wins.

In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Rasoul Alipour referred to the extension of the Turkish presidential elections to the second round and noted: According to the law of the referendum held in 2017 and Turkey’s transition from a parliamentary system to a presidential system, for the first time presidential and parliamentary elections were held at the same time, and about 90 percent of the people participated in those elections. During that period, Erdogan and Kılıçdaroğlu and their supporters tried to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey while playing the role of the president.

Saying that this year coincided with the aggravation of Turkey’s economic problems, and Erdogan’s Achilles heel in this round of the elections was financial problems, he explained the causes of economic tensions in Turkey, including the damage to the country’s tourism industry, especially after the war between Russia and Ukraine and noted: In the election year, Erdogan was facing a severe budget deficit, and on the other hand, he had to make big promises to convince the people and his supporters to trust him again. The extent of the financial promises has placed a heavy burden on the Turkish economy, and either Erdogan or Kılıçdaroğlu win the elections, they will face many economic problems to compensate for the budget deficit.

The expert on Turkey affairs considered the results of the first round of the elections as a kind of victory for Erdogan and continued: He is very hopeful to win the elections in the second round with a more significant margin than his rival. The eastern and southeastern regions of Turkey, which are considered Kurdish regions, voted more for Kılıçdaroğlu because of the concerns about Erdogan’s confrontation with the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party. Western and southwestern regions, and Mediterranean and Aegean coastal cities, such as Izmir and Antalya, which are generally secular, also voted for Kılıçdaroğlu. Kilicdaroglu’s votes were more in Ankara and Istanbul.

Saying that Kılıçdaroğlu had more votes in big cities and in small towns where people are generally conservative, the People’s Alliance and Erdoğan won, he added: In the parliamentary polls, the parties “Justice and Development” and the “Nationalist Movement” won the majority of seats in the parliament together with the “New Welfare” Party which belongs to Erdoğan’s son. The victory of the People’s Alliance in the parliamentary elections is significant for Erdogan, and he hopes to win the same amount of votes in the presidential elections as well.

He counted the next two weeks as critical election contests and referring to the possibility of a coalition of candidates with “Sinan Oghan” in the second round, he said: Erdogan, who has about 2.4 million more votes than Kılıçdaroğlu, is very hopeful that he will be able to win in the second round of the elections. He is now almost 5 percent ahead of his rival. If “Sinan Oghan” declares neutrality, most of his votes will go toward Erdogan. Even if Oghan supports Kılıçdaroğlu, part of his votes will turn to Erdogan because of Kurdish issues.

While referring to the announcement of the positions of the Turkish presidential candidates, the expert on Turkey affairs explained possible changes in the country’s foreign policy and explained: If Erdogan’s coalition wins the elections, considering the policies of the Justice and Development Party in the past twenty-one years, it is predictable that his policies will continue. Erdogan’s Turkey has recently sought regional integration and established relations with Syria.

Emphasizing that Turkey should also move based on regional realities, Alipour noted: Although analysts believe that Kılıçdaroğlu has Western approaches, he has to act according to capabilities in regional systems. He indeed spoke of Western methods, but on the other hand, we have seen that he also said of regional alliances.

Recalling that Turkey is Iran’s third trading partner after China and the UAE and usually tries to strengthen relations with its neighbors, he said that Turkey has always used the “East” factor to regulate its relations with the West.

The analyst of Turkey affairs continued: We may witness some regional changes with the victory of Kılıçdaroğlu, even though he has announced that if he wins the elections, he will connect Turkey to Tabriz and Tehran and then to China through the establishment of a two-way railway line. Of course, this approach was not pleasant for the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Erdogan is also against this approach. In addition, it is possible that at the beginning of the work, with the inauguration of Kılıçdaroğlu, Erdogan’s close relations with Russia may be affected, or the mediation that Turkey tried to do between Russia and Ukraine may not be established, and we may see positions closer to Ukraine.

Alipour added: But in any case, it seems that the winner of the elections will face a series of internal problems, and those problems will become more with the presence of Kılıçdaroğlu; because he is considered a kind of temporary president, even by his fellow party members and the coalition parties; this is because they believe that Kılıçdaroğlu should become the president to prepare the ground for the transition to the parliamentary system, and he is a temporary agent.

He reminded: Considering that the composition of Turkey’s parliament has turned in Erdogan’s favor, even with the victory of Kılıçdaroğlu, they will face this dilemma. Therefore, they will struggle with some issues and problems within the party, and a large part of Kılıçdaroğlu’s time and energy will be spent on internal matters.

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