Now that the parties have handed over their candidate lists for the June 7 election, the real race may begin. For us analysts, it is also much easier to predict the directions the politics will take, whether Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been consolidating control over the Justice and Development Party (AKP),and on what sort of ground Turkey will proceed — with a new system or not.
The lists of the four main political players, containing hundreds of names, fail to create enthusiasm about the future.
In short, it is the same old, same old: The race will be with the unacceptable 10-percent threshold, preventing fair representation and diversity. The four parties enjoy enormous state subvention, while the minors that are out of Parliament are left to their own scarce devices. Apart from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), all the major parties have been again under the full domination of their leadership’s will to decide who stands as a candidate.
And once more, the “male culture” is intact. Apart from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), which has created almost half-and-half equality between their male-female candidates, all the other three parties have once again opted for male domination.
The proportion of females in the lists of the AKP and the CHP is about 17-18 percent, whereas the latter has at least placed the female names to more eligible positions than the former. The rate of females in the list of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is only 9 percent.
President Erdoğan seems to have tightened his grip on the party for by now well-known reasons.
The overwhelming part of the list has his fingerprints all over it, leaving very little room for Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to establish his future team.
The most eligible posts in all the key districts are occupied by names known for sheer, absolute loyalty and “unconditional service.” Other names include Erdoğan’s son-in-law, his advisers, lawyers and some journalists, also known as “his majesty’s stenographs.”
Overall, the list of the AKP seems brand new: Seventy-two deputies who have served three consecutive terms had to be left off and 100 of those who served in the current Parliament were stricken.
The “old guard” who together with Erdoğan built and carried the AKP have now to march out, not only for being “abandoned,” but also for what many of them see as the “decay” of the party ideals. This sense doesn’t bode well for the AKP, but for a rebellion of some kind, it would be reasonable to wait until after the June 7 election.
But one point is certain. The AKP list should read as a clear manifesto for Erdoğan’s well-known sense for not leaving anything up to chance. None of the names will stir trouble, when he takes the leap for a constitutional amendment to the vote. The party is his, and not Davutoğlu’s, oyster.
The main opponent, the CHP, has again chosen a low profile, as if it suffices to keep the electoral support at 24-26 percent. The list has some positive flash points, such as Selina Özuzun Doğan, an Armenian lawyer, and Özcan Purçu, a Roma, among the candidates, in eligible posts. But some names of the reformist-social democrat flank, such as Aykan Aydemir and Rıza Türmen, have been left off.
The lists of the CHP and the MHP are the least exciting ones, revealing only how strongly eclipsed by anachronism those two party structures are.
The HDP tries to match its ambitions to pass the notorious 10-percent threshold as a party, this time avoiding entering the race with individual, so-called “independent” candidates. It is a list that includes some Armenians, two Yezidis and several names of the Turkish Marxist left. The HDP heavyweights will fight for votes mainly in Western Anatolia, raising the stakes for the party as a whole.
The polls show that the AKP has lost five points, and there are now two key parties the vote shifts to: the MHP and the HDP. They also show that the HDP passing the 10-percent barrier is not in the bag at all.
Let me leave you to reflect on an undisclosed, reliable poll conducted most recently:
- AKP 45.8 percent,
- CHP 25.5 percent,
- MHP 16.6 percent,
- HDP 8.7 percent.