Türkiye presidential and parliamentary elections 2023 | By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan


Türkiye presidential and parliamentary elections 2023

THIS year the biggest political and electoral battle on this planet will be held in Türkiye. Presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on May 14, 2023 which has historic connection and symbolism too. Political predictions, electoral calculations and experts commentaries predict that outcome of these elections would change the country’s future democratic outlook, socio-politico scope and economic future. As usual the Western media have been specifically targeting the incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling political party “Justice and Development Party” (AKP). Through their slanted media campaigns they are advocating unification of the opposition parties to win the biggest political battle against Erdogan.

In this connection, since the announcement of these elections planned anti-Turkish and anti-Erdoğan articles have written and appeared more and more frequently in the US and European publications which clearly show their chronic political prejudice, and generational bias against Türkiye and its president. Ironically, most recently the famous magazine the Economist London specifically published a special issue on Türkiye claiming imminent socio-economic downfall, political marginalization and increasing dictatorship orientations in the country and urged western leaders and countries starting with U.S. President Joe Biden, to “warn” Erdoğan about declining democracy and its so-called high norms.

Nevertheless, in the past, the same global publisher had claimed that Türkiye was falling into dictatorship” in April 2017 days before the constitutional referendum when the Turkish people adopted the presidential system of government. It seems that common voters and people of Türkiye are disappointed with the constant and continued bashing, distortion and false, fake and fabricated media propaganda against them. It has been untrue, unreal, condescending, discriminatory and prejudiced commentaries of the western media that are intentionally refusing to recognize the emerging political and constitutional reality of the “new Türkiye.”

Moreover, some media outlets and think tanks in Washington, Brussels and Berlin do not hesitate to publish propaganda, masked as so-called free analysis, regarding ways to ensure Erdoğan’s loss in a way that serves intelligence and perception operations because the incumbent president has been very vocal against their hidden political agendas and operations to sabotage his sincere efforts to achieve regional peace, stability and harmony. With continuation of the western paid lobbyists in the region and beyond even John Bolton, a former U.S. National Security Adviser wrote an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal was the classic example of paid content therapy/theory in which Bolton claimed that NATO would kick Türkiye out in case of another victory for President Erdoğan and urged readers to support the opposition and indirectly tried to influence the free will of people of Türkiye not to vote and support the incumbent government.

It seems that the western countries have started unending media and political 5th generation hybrid war against Türkiye. It fears that even in near future the ongoing propaganda of character assassination and muddy trail will not be exhausted against Türkiye.  The western powers and the US have not been supporting Erdoğan in combating regional terrorism in Syria, Iraq, peaceful and diplomatic purists in ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, Yemen, Iran and even in Afghanistan. His die-hard spirits for the revival of Turkic bloc in the Central Asia and South Caucasus has been under strict scrutiny of the global movers and shakers. His proactive and pro-Muslim brotherhood role in the OIC sessions has also been in the line of fire.

Nevertheless, all Turkish voters are unhappy with the western support of the PKK and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) terrorist organizations and Greece’s maximalist demands. Their hostility toward Türkiye’s initiatives and achievements in defence and energy is not lost on anyone either. Interestingly, the western media, think tanks and NGOs would only empower the People’s Alliance’s arguments by approaching the May 2023 elections like The Economist or Bolton. In this regard, the ruling alliance talks about its ideal of a more powerful country, warning that an opposition victory would lead to chaos and a downward turn. Ironically, the western media’s anti-Erdoğan campaign renders the opposition parties vulnerable to the accusation that they think along the same lines as the foreign powers.

Moreover, emerging socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic gaming is being carried out to further isolate Erdoğan from winning another crucial election in the country which they term as the “Final Election”. The supply of F-35 war fighter to Greece, prolonged rejection of new F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye, Sweden and Finland’s admission into NATO (most recently it accepted inclusion of Sweden into NATO) are nothing but pressure tactics of the West on Ankara which has definite political price. The US trade sanctions on Türkiye has further worsened its macro-economic woes. Therefore, the relations between Türkiye and the West will be tested over the next months. To conclude, it seems that any public intervention by the West and the USA such as “warnings” or “pressure,” would backfire spectacularly in the upcoming elections to be held on May 14, 2023. However, it fears that influx of foreign funding, manipulations on social media and negative activities of the NGOs will be further accelerated toward indirectly influencing the Turkish elections to slow down.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that the elections would take place on May 14. The 2023 elections in Türkiye have substantial symbolic value by taking place at the beginning of the republic’s second century.  He also enabled himself to mount rhetorical pressure on right-wing parties that joined forces with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), as part of the opposition bloc. As a result, in the future, Erdoğan can invoke a historical symbol. A six-party opposition bloc is now working together to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP to restore the country’s parliamentary system. The opposition bloc vowed in January 2023 to end the presidential system set by the country’s leader, Erdogan, and bring back parliamentary rule. The alliance also announced that they would aim to fight inflation and within two years, will reduce it to a single-digit percentage. It aims to continue Turkey’s bid for membership of the European Union and restore independence to the country’s central bank.

It seems that two main political coalitions will face off in the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections. The People’s Alliance, which brings together the governing AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The Nation Alliance, made up of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the historic Kemalist party, and the nationalist Good Party, which split from the MHP five years ago, as well as four small, generally conservative parties. Bound together only by member parties’ hostility to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Nation Alliance has coalesced around a pledge to restore a parliamentary system of government within two years if it wins. Türkiye’s political landscape has shifted in the past year in a way that makes assessing the fortunes of the two largest coalitions more complex. CHP head Kemal Kilicdaroglu has lately emerged as the joint presidential candidate for the Nation Alliance. While he is a well-known political figure but does not have any record of achievements to tout to voters who may wonder if he is up to the domestic and diplomatic challenges facing Türkiye. The ideological diversity of his coalition may also put a damper on his presidential aspirations.

—The writer is Executive Director, the Centre for South Asia & International Studies (CSAIS) Islamabad.