Turkey’s opposition coalition partner Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader Ali Babacan announced on April 27 that his party will enter the election with its own name and organization, stirring a debate if that move is a consequence of a crack in the 6-party opposition alliance. The alliance has been discussing new election strategies after ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has voted to change the election law that allows small parties to evade election threshold by going to ballot under an alliance.
Party’s Spokesperson Idris Şahin defined the news as a “Holiday Gift” stating that the decision was taken at the party management on April 26 and it created a “festive atmosphere in the organizations.”
“It was almost a holiday gift to our organizations,” Şahin said stating that because this was going to be DEVA’s first election, and they wanted to test themselves on the political scale. The recent “offensive” comments by pro-government commentators also played a role in this decision.
At the time when Şahin said that Babacan’s decision was a holiday gift from the party organization, there was also a festive mood in the pro-government media. “The table of six cracked,” “the opposition dissipated” they wrote. They were excited, almost as if Babacan’s holiday gift was given to Erdogan.
Babacan had declared at that time that they did not break with the alliance and that they would continue their joint effort to defeat President Tayyip Erdoğan in the election, however the general perception was directed in the opposite way.
Fight not only with the opponent, but also with the referee
Main opposition Republican People Party (CHP) Özgür Özel found Babacan’s decision to be “precious in terms of eliminating uncertainties”. Each party was already represented with its own logo, the important thing was to be able to act together in the Presidential elections, he said.
Stating that the decision they took did not contradict the promises they made at the Table of Six so far, İdris Şahin said, “We know that we are fighting not only against the opponent, but also against the referee”; “Our goal is for the opposition’s common candidate to win by far.” Şahin also said that the other leaders were informed about the party’s decision at the meeting on April 24 “with the exception of time and form”.
The DEVA spokesperson clarified two more points: first, they would “definitely not take part” in the People’s Alliance of the ruling AKP and MHP.
Secondly, they would not join an alliance around the table of six under a name of Milli Görüş (National Outlook, rooted political islamic movement that gave birth to AKP)
Third, if there was to be a grouping within or outside the Nation Alliance, the decision would be taken by 6 leaders.
Erdogan’s election law gift
The fact of the matter is that the change in the election law by Erdoğan’s AKP and Devlet Bahçeli’s MHP, downplaying alliances, had begun to bear fruit.
It was not Babacan who gave Erdogan the holiday gift, but actually Bahçeli, with the election law compromise.
As a matter of fact, it cannot be said that DEVA’s decision will have a decisive influence on the outcome of the election, unless the consensus on the goal of transitioning to the Presidency and parliamentary system is broken. A similar decision may come from the Future Party of Ahmet Davutoğlu. In this context, the “elimination of uncertainties” comment from the CHP also makes sense.
However, there is another aspect of DEVA’s decision that especially show something to CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
Does the opposition make the mistake of “anybody can be elected”?
The election will be more difficult than before, with the possibility of the new election law and Erdogan’s diplomatic role in the Ukraine Crisis to have a positive impact on the economic crisis.
If the opposition wants to beat Erdogan in the election, its candidate must really be a person who can be chosen by a wide margin, not by a single point or two. It seems that there is a team around Kılıçdaroğlu in the delusion and complacency that “Erdogan cannot win the election anyhow, while the economic and political structure is falling apart, whoever we nominate will be elected”. This, for example, causes the leaders of the six-table to fear that if Kılıçdaroğlu nominates himself, Erdoğan and the AKP will launch a violent counter-campaign over Kılıçdaroğlu’s Alevi faith.
Kılıçdaroğlu must be aware of this situation; His latest output targeting the conflicts within the CHP seems to show this.
Because the opposition’s job continues to get harder and harder for the opposition than it was two months ago, when the Ukraine Crisis started.
This is what the opposition leaders, especially Kılıçdaroğlu and Akşener, should see.