The latest preelection survey places incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the May 14 vote for the presidency and parliamentary seats ahead of the others. Erdoğan is favored by the majority of voters in the case of a second round.
Survey company Genar announced that the AK Party’s vote stands at 40.7% in parliamentary elections while the Good Party (IP), which shocked supporters of the Nation’s Alliance of the opposition bloc when it split from the alliance briefly, sharply decreased. Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of the AK Party in the People’s Alliance, enjoys a rise in the vote. The survey also shows a boost for the Homeland Party of Muharrem Ince, a former contender against Erdoğan in the 2018 elections who is running against him again in the upcoming elections.
Genar’s Chair Ihsan Aktaş told broadcaster A Haber that according to their earlier surveys, the AK Party has lost some support following the economic deterioration in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic while the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) scored one point more around the same time. “The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) held to a stable rate of 10.8%,” he said, referring to surveys they conducted eight months ago. The HDP is viewed as the key party the Nation’s Alliance seeks to court in the electoral race. “Now the pandemic is over and the AK Party took steps to balance the inflation and restore the economy. We have seen more positive developments like housing projects. Improving export figures, decreasing unemployment, the write-off of outstanding debts of students and later of more citizens, and the early retirement scheme boosted the AK Party’s votes,” he said.
The survey shows more than 52% of interviewees would support Erdoğan if the election goes into a second round while the opposition bloc’s candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu garnered only 47.7% support for a possible second round. Kılıçdaroğlu’s CHP, meanwhile, wins only 23.1% of the vote in the parliamentary elections according to the Genar survey.
Erdoğan’s main rival will be Kılıçdaroğlu in the elections. Kılıçdaroğlu boasts the support of six parties in the bloc while hoping to draw more support from parties not included in the current bloc, like the HDP.
The AK Party and MHP will formally nominate Erdoğan as their candidate later on Tuesday by applying to the Supreme Election Council (YSK).
Other parties and candidates also step up to the plate to challenge the favorites. A smaller alliance of far-right parties fielded Sinan Oğan earlier as a presidential candidate while Doğu Perinçek of the Patriotic Party (VP) also joined the race.
Yet, some candidates also hit technical obstacles, namely Cem Uzan and Hakan Uzan, two siblings who once controlled one of Türkiye’s most powerful business empires. Disgraced tycoon Cem Uzan, who founded the Young Party (GP) ahead of the 2002 elections, was turned down by the YSK as he sent a proxy for application, like his brother. Uzan, who was sentenced in absentia in Türkiye over a string of corruption cases, resides in France. He was mulling a comeback to Turkish politics, announcing his candidacy on Twitter. YSK also rejected the application of Hürrem Ayaz on the grounds that she applied for candidacy by mail instead of an in-person application.
The YSK also gave a Tuesday evening deadline to nine other candidates to complete their paperwork, including New Welfare Party (YRP) leader Fatih Erbakan and Ahmet Özal, head of the Türkiye Alliance of small parties. Erbakan and Özal are sons of former prime ministers Necmettin Erbakan and Turgut Özal.
Parties looking to expand their alliance, at least in an informal way, in the meantime, face criticism from their opponents. The Nation’s Alliance hit out at the AK Party for seeking the support of the Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR), which is traditionally backed by conservative citizens of Kurdish background. The alliance’s candidate Kılıçdaroğlu, however, is engaged in talks with HDP, despite past opposition by its ally IP to support from HDP .
Kılıçdaroğlu, who held talks with the HDP co-chairs on Monday, was the target of criticism by MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli. In a message on the occasion of Nevruz, Bahçeli slammed the meeting. Nevruz, a spring festival celebrated in Turkic countries and a wide part of Asia, was exploited by HDP to stage pro-PKK rallies across Türkiye on Monday. Bahçeli said although the timing of the CHP-HDP meeting was “unfortunate,” it also provided an opportunity to show “who is aligned with who.” “Those aiming to turn our spring into winter will be condemned through the display of the public’s will on May 14,” Bahçeli said. He said Nevruz was not a festival for “those under the yoke of terrorism and separatists” but “a festival of Turks, the Turkish nation,” in a written statement on Tuesday.