Ms Zainab Haseeb is studying IR at Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore. She has previously participated in WWF's Eco-internship.
Turkey is one of the crucial players in the international system, with ties and commitments that extend beyond its region and make it significant when it comes to international platforms and initiatives. While Turkey has contributed its fair share to international politics, the contours of its domestic affairs, especially the 2023 elections, remain an area of interest for strategists and analysts.
Format of Elections
On 14th May, a population of 64 million voted for a new president and a new parliament. The two votes that they cast selected a president and a political party. The party voting revolves around the proportional representation system rather than the candidate system. In order to gain a position in the parliament, political parties require 7% of the vote.
In the presidential elections, the candidate requires 50% of the votes. In case that didn’t happen, a run-off between the two top-scoring candidates is to take place which is the case for the 2023 elections in Turkey.
The Top Four Candidates
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the 69-year-old contestant, is part of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). He has been in power for around 20 years in his political journey and nine of those were in the capacity of a president. From 2003-14, he was the Prime Minister and from 1994-98 he was the mayor of Istanbul.
Contesting for the third time, the 2023 elections in Turkey have been one of the hardest elections for Erdogan as the voters remain concerned because of the economic situation of the state as well as the damage that was inflicted by the earthquake this year.
Muharram Ince is the founder and the head of the Homeland Party founded in 2021. Previously, he was associated with the Republican People’s Party, the same as his opponent Kemal. However, due to different approaches towards domestic politics, Ince created his own political faction.
In the 2018 elections, Ince was only second behind Erdogan and remained a prominent figure throughout the period. However, in 2023, his popularity has seemingly reduced, and he has become overshadowed by two of his competitors now.
Kilicdaroglu, known as the Gandhi of Turkey, is an economist who served as a civil servant and a propeller of social democracy. The leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal has been serving as the opposition leader since 2010.
Kilicdaroglu has been seen to adopt the strategy of coalitions leading to the formation of his alliance and victories in local elections. He remains the joint candidate for the Nation Alliance against Erdogan, and he has inflicted significant damages to the vote bank of his competitor.
Ogan obtained his seat in the Turkish parliament in 2011 and remained a part of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) till his expulsion which was caused because of his opposition to the 2018 referendum. The cause of his prominence this time was due to his affiliation with the Ancestral Alliance. With the support of ATA Alliance, he appeared to contest the 2023 Turkish presidential elections but attracted little attention.
The 2023 Turkish elections play an important role in the country’s strategic position as a significant member of NATO. The focus of Erdogan’s campaign remained highlighting his regime’s achievements in the defense industry and the development of infrastructure projects.
Kilicdaroglu, on the other hand, led rallies that had relatively less fervor. An example of it was his visit to the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, as an attempt to show his loyalty to the state’s roots.
Results of the Elections
After campaigning, the results of the elections revealed Erdogan as the leading candidate. Erdogan of the AK Party gained 49.5% of the votes followed by Kilicdaroglu who was able to secure 44.8% of the votes. Ogan and Ince were only able to get 5.3% and 0.4 of the votes respectively.
Since no candidate managed to secure a clear 50% majority, there is to be a second round of competition between Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu on 28th May.
The voters are to decide the fate of the state on 28th May. The final decision will have an impact on global politics and would considerably shift the perception of allies and other leaders towards Turkey. Domestic issues and the economic struggle remain important agendas in the minds of the voters, and these shall remain a source of guidance in making the right choice.
If you want to submit your articles, research papers, and book reviews, please check the Submissions page.
The views and opinions expressed in this article/paper are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Paradigm Shift.