“I believe that with the 45 percent [the AKP] successfully [won] in the local elections, Erdoğan will reconsider running for president,” Sencar told Today’s Zaman. He noted that the chance incumbent President Abdullah Gül would run against Erdoğan is not likely. “Erdoğan will not miss this opportunity … he can reach 51 percent [if he can be convinced to vie for] Kurdish votes and add to his existing 45 percent.”
But Dağdaş, on the other hand, believes that Erdoğan needs more than a margin of 5-6 percent more votes, because Erdoğan’s current 45 percent already includes BDP votes. According to him, in order for Erdoğan to reach an absolute majority, he needs to form a coalition with the BDP, though such an agreement could cause him to lose some of the nationalist vote.
According to Sencar, opposition parties will have to look for a viable alternative candidate to run against Erdoğan in the presidential elections in August. “If such a candidate is found, Erdoğan might be challenged,” Sencar said. He said this candidate must be someone who can be accepted by voters of both the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and that he or she should be able to attract the votes of the liberals and the religious within the AK Party. “Erdoğan is likely to run for office, but his election is not guaranteed,” Sencar concluded.
Criticizing Erdoğan for his ruling style, which many believe threatens societal peace in Turkey, Dağdaş said that Erdoğan’s reputation has been damaged at home and abroad because he is unable to embrace all of society. The prime minister used particularly divisive language in his victory speech on Sunday and, according to Dağdaş, he cannot be successful in the elections unless he normalizes Turkey.
For Dağdaş, the government has been misleading the people in its comparison of Sunday’s election results with local election results from 2009, as opposed to comparing it to the last general elections in 2011. Compared with the 2011 results, the government lost popularity by 5 percentage points, which Dağdaş believes is a result of Erdoğan’s polarizing rhetoric.