Nergis Demirkaya / DUVAR
After they finished a 5.5-hour meeting this weekend, the leaders of the six opposition parties gathered for a photo that was shared widely on social media. Now, supporters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led government are saying that the photo shows weakness.
The meeting this weekend was held between main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener, Felicity Party leader Temel Karamollaoğlu, Democrat Party leader Gültekin Uysal, DEVA Party leader Ali Babacan and Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu. They discussed at a working dinner a return to a “renewed parliamentary system” and when they would announce their joint plan. They also discussed a government transition roadmap and post-election policies.
According to AKP politicians, the photo demonstrates weakness because the opposition should not need six leaders - and therefore six parties - to defeat President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP and National Movement Party (MHP) coalition.
“This photo actually shows how strong President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is,” government insiders say.
The opposition, on the other hand, insists that their wide-ranging alliance reflects just how badly the people of Turkey want the government to change hands. In recent months, they have brought traditionally right-leaning parties, such as the DEVA and Future parties, into the fold in a show of oppositional unity.
In contrast, the ruling People’s Alliance, consisting of the AKP, the MHP and the Great Union Party (BBP), is not expected to bring on any more supporters.
Despite this, they believe they can attract voters they’ve lost before planned elections in June 2023. Government insiders said that if they can address current economic issues - and they believe they can - voters will return. They also believe that normalizing international relations and re-establishing trust with “disadvantaged” segments of society will enable them to sway voters.
Economic crisis, including historic inflation and ever-rising prices, has turned many reluctant voters against the current government.
Government operatives, however, still believe they are in the lead. According to calculations made by AKP insiders, the ruling coalition will need 3.5 million more votes than they achieved in the 2018 elections to win the Presidency. However, this does not take into account the possibility that President Erdogan and the AKP have lost voters as a result of their economic mismanagement and political turmoil.
Further, they argue that the disparate beliefs of the parties that comprise the opposition could lead to infighting when finalizing the plan for a return to a parliamentary system. This, they hope, will cause schisms in the alliance, increase tension among supporters, and therefore push people towards the AKP.
(English version by Erin O'Brien)