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Turkish opposition alliance seeks to control parliament

People wave the Turkish flag as leader of the main opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, delivers a speech in Istanbul, Turkey on 9 July 2017 [Onur Çoban/Anadolu Agency]
People wave the Turkish flag as leader of the main opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, delivers a speech in Istanbul, Turkey on 9 July 2017 [Onur Çoban/Anadolu Agency]

CNN Turk reported breaking news last night that four political parties have reached an agreement to form an alliance in the parliamentary elections. The Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Lyi (Good) Party, the Islamist Saadet Party (SP) and the Democrat Party (DP) are set to announce the new coalition officially today.

Another electoral alliance had already been formed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) headed by Devlet Bahceli, called the “People’s Alliance”. The opposition alliance is expected to be called the “Alliance of Principles”, as already announced by CHP President Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Both coalitions were formed for the elections called early and to be held on 24th June, but there is a difference between the two. The People’s Alliance will run in the presidential and parliamentary elections and back Erdogan’s candidacy for the presidency. The Alliance of Principles will only run in the parliamentary elections and each party will back its own candidate in the presidential elections.

The People’s Alliance was formed a while back, after the MHP leader felt the need to preserve the country’s security and stability in light of the heated developments across the region and the great challenges that threaten Turkey’s present and future. The first steps were taken after the failed coup attempt by officers loyal to the parallel state, the secret organisation affiliated with the Gulen Movement, on 15 July 2016. This alliance led to the change in the governance of Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system. The two parties are joined by the similarities in their points of view regarding foreign politics adopted in regional issues, such as the Syrian and Iraqi issues. They also agree on the need to combat terrorist organisations such as the parallel state and the PKK, as well as the need to thwart attempts at foreign interference and conspiracies. Thus, the People’s Alliance can be described as a “strategic” rather than “electoral” alliance.

Read: Turkish elections surprise everyone

As for the new coalition, the main, if not the only, goal is to topple Erdogan in any way possible and at any cost. The policy adopted by the left-wing CHP is different from that adopted by the Islamist SP, and the DP won 0.1 per cent. This means that the total percentage of the vote won by these parties last time was 26.1 per cent, which is almost as much as the CHP won on its own.

The Lyi Party, founded by former parliamentarian Meral Aksener, has not yet participated in any elections, and therefore there is nothing to indicate its popularity other than opinion polls. Some give it about 10 per cent while others suggest that the popularity of Aksener’s party is much less than this. If we were to assume that the Iyi Party’s popularity is 10 per cent, this does not mean that it will add 10 per cent of the votes to the alliance’s votes because part of these votes will come from voters who voted for the CHP in the last parliamentary elections.

After losing hope about defeating Erdogan in the presidential elections, the new alliance is now seeking a majority of seats in the Turkish parliament, which now has 600 seats rather than 550 as a result of the recent constitutional amendments. However, this task will not be easy given the past figures, as even if they have changed over the past 3 years, they would not have changed radically enough to turn the political scene upside down.

This article first appeared in Arabic on Arabi21 on 2 May 2018

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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