Sunday’s Turkish election will go a long way towards mapping out the country’s political future. If the ruling AKP party, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wins by a landslide his party will change the current constitution and usher in a presidential form of government.
Many believe Erdogan, after completing his third term as prime minister, will then put himself forward to be the country’s first president under the new civil constitution.
The main opposition party, the Social Democratic CHP, is campaigning to strengthen democracy and individual rights in order to prevent the AKP from monopolising power.
The CHP, founded by Ataturk, has undergone some major changes in recent times and wants a more equal distribution of wealth to close the growing income gap.
The CHP will be keeping a close eye on the numbers in the hope that the AKP fails to win a super-majority and with it free reign to write the constitution without consultation.
Euronews’ Ali Çimen examines the possible outcome of the election. He spoke to Adil Gur, head of respected pollsters A&G in Istanbul.
Ali Çimen, euronews: “What do the latest public opinion polls tell us ahead of Sunday’s vote?”
“According to our latest poll, we see the ruling AKP locked on the same per cent of the vote it won in the 2007 election, around 46 percent. When it comes to the opposition CHP, we expect it to fare better when you compare it to 2007. And as for the MHP, the Nationalists party, which has been in the news lately because of the sex scandals. We think it will pass the 10 percent election barrier.
And as for the Kurdish BDP, we believe that they will be taking 30-32 seats in the new parliament.”
euronews: “Do you think that AKP will be able to get the super- majority (367 seats) which will enable it to make a new constitution without consultation with other parties.”
“There are two ways to make a new constitution in Turkey. First, you have to have 367 seats in the parliament, which will enable you to do it without taking the matter to a referendum. But according to the current voting tendencies, we do not see any party achieving that. The second way is to win 330 seats in the parliament and then put the new constitution to a referendum. But even if the AKP gets the same share of the vote as in 2007, it will fall short of the 330 seat target.”
euronews: “According to the latest polls, the AKP is on course to win a third consecutive term as ruling party. This will be the first time this will have happened in 50 years. What are the reasons behind Erdogan’s electoral success?”
“This is nothing to do with ideology or the conservative nature of Turkish voters. Our research shows that those who vote for the AKP do so because they like what they are doing, new roads, new airports and infrastructure investment and investment in general. I also believe the AKP knows how to look into the eye of the voter more than the others.”
euronews: “What will Turkish voters be considering when they vote on Sunday?”
“As in the other parts of the world, for a big majority of Turkish voters, around 60 percent of them, the economy is their main priority. I mean they look in their pockets before casting their ballots! And the rest, 30-40 percent, vote according to ideology or ethnicity. But at the end of the day, the main motive remains the economy.”
euronews: “Does the foreign policy of the AKP influence voters?”
“Of course it does, but if you mean the developments regarding the EU membership talks with Turkey, I can say it does not have such a big impact. But if we look at the stance of the AKP
government in terms of relations with Israel, with the Palestinians, we see that these have quite big impact, especially on conservative and nationalist voters in Turkey. I can add the AKP’s move to end visa restrictions with many countries in the last few years has also had an impact. But let me repeat once again that the EU has not been a motivating factor for Turkish voters as before. The main reason for that is public frustration at the slow pace of talks on Turkey’s bid to join the EU. People here strongly believe that EU is ignoring Turkey.”