When Ekrem Imamoglu took over the mayor of istanbul in 2019, the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to make his life impossible. The Turkish president, who began his political career in the 1990s, while governing the largest Turkish city, he denied the word and funds to Imamoglu. The president made the mayor the target of his anger.
Three years later, the pressure is mounting. For the first time since he governed -Erdogan came to power in 2003-, the Turkish head of state I would lose the elections if they took place right now, according to all the polls. And even more: he is no longer the most valued leader in the country, despite the fact that over the years his charisma and oratorical style they have made him such an influential leader that other politicians have imitated him.
It is also not in second place, but rather fourth, behind Imamoglu, the mayor of Ankara, Mansur Yavas, and other opposition politics, Meral Axes. The reason for its fall is the serious economic crisis that the country is experiencing, with a runaway inflation and a local currency, the lira, which lost half its value in 2021.
In recent months, dozens of demonstrations have taken place throughout the country. The main opposition force, the Republican People’s Party (CHP in its acronym in Turkish) -of which the mayors of Istanbul and Ankara are part-, is preparing more protests.
“Supposedly they will take to the streets. They have no shame“, Erdogan said recently. “But when they come out, this nation will teach them a lesson as he also gave it to those who took to the streets the 15th of July“, added the Turkish president, referring to the attempted coup of July 15, 2016. Erdogan, with two sentences, linked the main opposition party to those who tried to force him out of power six years ago.
The CHP is experiencing a sweet moment and its members seem convinced that they will defeat Erdogan’s party. The elections are not until the spring of 2023, but there are rumors that they could be brought forward to the fall of this year.
“I was thinking about buying a house, but in the end I decided to rent it, because I think I won’t be in Istanbul much longer. In a year we will all go to Ankara,” a man said with laughter a few weeks ago. team member of the Mayor of Istanbul. Going to Ankara, for him, means going with his boss to the presidential palace.
But not all is so easy. Faced with a hypothetical electoral defeat, according to the political scientist Soner Cagaptay, Erdogan would have several options. “There are two likely paths. In the first, Erdogan loses the elections, but immediately assures that there has been a fraud Clear. So, as he did in Istanbul in 2019, he seeks to nullify the result, which would plunge Turkey into an unprecedented crisis. The second possibility is to try to ‘fix’ the elections before they happen, but that, as happened in Istanbul in 2019, has few chances of successsays Cagaptay.
In those elections, the Government forced the electoral repetition after losing the great city of Turkey. In the replay, Erdogan’s candidate lost by a much larger margin of votes than the first time around.
all to play
However, elections still do not seem to be on the near horizon, and the Turkish opposition remains divided on who will face Erdogan in what seem to be the most important elections of the recent history of the Republic of Turkey.
“Time will tell if the opposition parties will be able to overcome their problems and differences and if they manage to defeat Erdogan. Until then, however, it is premature to disregard the ability of the president of survive“, Explain Berk Esen, professor at Sabanci University. “But Erdogan is closer than ever in his political career of losing power, especially in a country where those in power come to power and leave through the ballot box,” he adds.
Splits, leaks and leaks
and the moment of soft spot of the Turkish president, in addition, it has been noted within its ranks. A few years ago, no deputy and member of the ruling party dared speak to the press to criticize the chief’s policy and now the newspapers are full of sources —anonymous, of course— that recount in all kinds of detail Erdogan’s failures and disconnections from reality, previously an untouchable and infallible politician.
But they are not just leaks: in the last year not one party but two have been founded from splits in Erdogan’s party. And the leaders of the two, the Future Party and the Remedy Party —both names a clear reference to Erdogan’s party—, were once heavyweights in the government of the Turkish president. One of them, Ahmet Davutoglu, was even Erdogan’s number two, and many thought that he could be the one to replace the president when he decided to leave.
Not only has this not been the case, but Davutoglu is now criticizing his former boss and is seeking to officially join the opposition coalition to the Turkish president. “We are committed to the union of all Turks through our common values and real communication, not through the hypocrisy. Know it: the polls will come. And you and the hypocrites who accompany you will definitely leave,” Davutoglu said this week, referring to Erdogan.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.