Analysts say Turkey’s Erdoğan likely to run for president

Based on the tallied results from the March 30 local elections in favor of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), analysts agree that the possibility of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan running for president has increased, although him obtaining an absolute majority is not guaranteed.
According to MetroPOLL Strategic and Social Research Center President Özer Sencar and political analyst and a former minister Gürcan Dağdaş, in order to guarantee the absolute majority Erdoğan needs to form an agreement with the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

“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.


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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