Mayor İmamoğlu’s report on CHP’s failure in elections points out defects during campaigning

Daily Cumhuriyet writer Barış Terkoğlu published details from a report on the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) election defeat commissioned by the CHP’s Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu. The report pointed out that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's campaign set the election agenda and dominated the scene.

Kılıçdaroğlu (L) and İmamoğlu (R) meet on June 15 rearding the post-election reconstruction within the CHP.

Duvar English

Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has commissioned a report on the CHP’s election failure in collaboration with think tanks, wrote daily Cumhuriyet columnist Barış Terkoğlu

Terkoğlu wrote that he read the report and summarized it in his column. Accordingly, the report begins with a survey on the voting behavior of the electorate and lists the groups of voters President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received the most votes from. Some 70.1 percent of headscarved women voted for Erdoğan in the presidential elections, while this number was 62.3 percent for low-educated, 62 percent for religious people, 61.3 percent for housewives, and 57.7 percent for nationalists.

On the other hand, the main opposition’s presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu received 52 percent from students, 57.8 percent from university graduates, and 58.3 percent from Kemalists. However, he remained at 33.6 percent among those who say they are religious and 35 percent among nationalists.

The report points out that Erdoğan's campaign set the election agenda by successfully disseminating allegations regarding the opposition’s inability to govern a country should they come to power and possible chaos afterward. Furthermore, while the serious allegations of “collaboration with the terrorist groups” resonated with the electorate, the opposition Nation Alliance underestimated the government’s effective discourse on securitization. The report states that the CHP could have undertaken a strategy "to appease nationalist voters without hurting the Kurds.”

The report also indicates that the opposition alliance lost its credibility in the eyes of the constituency as it began to be perceived as a group of political parties trying to share low-level bureaucratic cadres and ministries while they did not share names for the key bureaucratic positions. 

The report states that the opposition should have centered the race around the idea of two different Turkeys. It should have emphasized that it is not Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu competing, but rather this is a competition between a Turkey which is poor, oppressive, and authoritarian and a Turkey which is fair and democratic. 

The report also states Kılıçdaroğlu's campaign was not about winning but about becoming a candidate and proving his candidacy. Moreover, his campaign did not aim to understand all kinds of doubts, criticisms, and objections while discussing them on democratic grounds. Kılıçdaroğlu's campaign was carried out with an oppressive method aimed at suppressing and discrediting dissidents inside the opposition, according to the report.

The report indicates that voters respected Kılıçdaroğlu not as an alternative to Erdoğan but because he produced a leadership style that differed from Erdoğan. The fictionalized portrait of Kılıçdaroğlu particularly during the second round of presidential elections was not found to be real and he was likened to Erdoğan.

Nationalist İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener's departure from the Nation Alliance with heavy criticism and her quick return, Homeland Party leader Muharrem İnce's and far-right ATA Alliance’s candidate Sinan Oğan's outbursts weakened the young secular-nationalist voters' loyalty to the alliance. 

In addition, a field mobilization that could have convinced voters one-on-one against the manipulations and false propaganda of the ruling alliance could not be established.

The report further states that while the media, the judiciary, and the state facilities were all in Erdoğan's favor, the remedy was effective face-to-face work on the ground. Nonetheless, a considerable amount of energy and resources were devoted to social media campaigns. 

Erdoğan was elected as president with 52.18 percent of the votes against Kılıçdaroğlu in the second round of the presidential elections. İmamoğlu became one of the prominent figures voicing criticism within the party. Kılıçdaroğlu on June 15 met for the third time with İmamoğlu to talk about the CHP's congress process.