Duvar English/ ANKARA
Speaking to a group of journalists last week, opposition Good Party (İP) leader Meral Akşener said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will not be able to emerge victorious in the 2023 presidential elections. “I know that [the president] himself can see this. The votes aren’t sufficient” Akşener said. The politician also categorically denied claims that her party was growing closer to Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), rumors that swirled after the two leaders were seen speaking at a reception hosted by the presidency late last month.
Akşener’s İP is a right-wing nationalist party that broke away from the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in 2017 after the MHP brokered an alliance with Erdoğan and his AKP. Once one of Erdoğan’s fiercest critics, MHP leader Bahçeli has become one of Erdoğan’s staunchest allies, much to the
dismay of many within the party.
Though the İP received just under 10 percent of the vote in last year’s parliamentary elections, they proved to be a powerful force in the local elections of this year. Forming an alliance with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the two parties strategically opted to not field candidates in certain provinces where the other party would be more likely to prevail.
Despite being on the opposite end of the political spectrum, the leftist, pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) unofficially backed the İP-CHP alliance, enabling it to win the mayoral elections in nearly all of Turkey’s major cities, including Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, Mersin and
Adana. The HDP declined to field candidates in these cities, which have substantial Kurdish populations.
Akşener criticized the presidential system that went into effect with the elections last year, a system that weakened the country’s parliament and granted extended powers to Erdoğan. The system was approved in a referendum that Erdoğan narrowly won in 2017.
“The presidential government system no longer functions and I think Mr. Erdoğan has realized this as well. I don’t know what kind of solution will be found. The system has come to a deadlock,” Akşener said.