Turkey Election 2023: Insights, Candidates, and Key Issues Explained - The India Saga



Turkey Election 2023: Insights, Candidates, and Key Issues Explained

On Sunday, about 62 million people in Turkey stood in a queue to vote in an unprecedented election. This is…

Turkey Election 2023: Insights, Candidates, and Key Issues Explained

Turkey Election 2023

On Sunday, about 62 million people in Turkey stood in a queue to vote in an unprecedented election. This is said to be one of the most fierce elections in Turkey’s history as the Presidential elections pose a stiff challenge to the incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He is facing a massive erosion in his overall popularity and electoral appeal despite numerous changes to Turkey’s political system that Opposition parties have termed as authoritarian. As per the Turkish Media, the presidential election, as of now, appears likely to go to a second round after incumbent Erdogan failed to secure 50% of the total votes cast to extend his 2-decade rule. 


Additionally, the Presidential election took place just three months after massive earthquakes in southeast Turkey killed around 50,000 people. Many people in the affected regions have expressed anger over the slow initial government response however, there is really no evidence to suggest that this issue would be crucial in deciding how people vote.


Historical Context


To understand the current political climate surrounding the Turkey Election 2023, it is essential to examine the historical context. The country has a robust electoral history, with past elections showcasing the democratic aspirations of the Turkish people. Previous elections have seen the rise of different political parties and significant shifts in power. Events such as the constitutional referendum and geopolitical developments have also played a role in shaping the political landscape leading up to the 2023 election.


Candidates and Political Parties:


The Turkey Election 2023 features a diverse range of candidates vying for various offices. The major contenders represent prominent political parties and independent platforms. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who heads an alliance of six opposition parties, is the key challenger to Erdogan. However, if neither of them fail to get more than 50% of the vote, which is a possibility, there will be a runoff election on May 28.


The Turkish Voters will elect a new parliament, likely a tight race between the People’s Alliance comprising Erdogan’s conservative Islamist-rooted AK Party (AKP) and the nationalist MHP and others, and Kilicdaroglu’s Nation Alliance formed of six opposition parties, including his secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), established by Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.


Key Issues and Voter Concerns:


The pressing issues at the forefront of the election campaign heavily influence voter choices. 

This time Erdogan is on a sticky wicket due to his handling of the economy and the continuous rising Inflation which has left people with siding away from Erdogan.


The country’s economy is in deep trouble. Inflation is about 50%, down from the high of 85% in 2022. The currency has shed 80% of its value in the last 5 years. The recent earthquake that created havoc, killing approx 50,000 people has worsened matters. A large part of the inflation issues have to do with president Erdogan refusing to raise interest rates on loans, and Turkey’s central bank not standing up to him. There is no doubt that while Erdogan’s image of a strong leader in full control has largely helped him, it now majorly concentrates responsibility on him for his government’s perceived delay in relief during the earthquake, and for the ignoring of construction rules that exacerbated the earthquake damage.


On the second major issue, of Turkey’s slide into authoritarianism, opinion remains sharply divided. Erdogan says those who cry democracy is dying are an elite minority who worship the West, while he wants to take Turkey and patriotic Turks to greater heights. His loyal constituency of rural, middle-class Muslims have so far agreed. However, discontent against his grandstanding, divisive, and incendiary rhetoric seems to be growing.


Electoral Process and Timeline:


Understanding the electoral process is crucial to comprehending the Turkey Election 2023. Recently, in 2018, Turkey witnessed a change in the Political System of the Country. In July 2018, Turkey underwent a transition from Parliamentary system to a Presidential system after Erdogan won the presidential election. The powers of the President  were widely broadened after a 2017 referendum approving the transition to an executive presidency.


The post of prime minister was completely abolished and the president was also slated to be the head of government. In the new political system, voters elect the president directly.

Turkey holds simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections every 5 years.

The 2023 polls, initially scheduled for June 18, were brought forward to May 14. More than 64 million Turkish citizens are eligible to vote at nearly 192,000 polling stations spread across the length and breadth of the country, including more than 6 million first-time voters. There are 3.4 million voters overseas, who completed voting by 9th May.


Elections for the 600 members of the National Assembly, as the Turkish parliament is known, are carried out through a system of proportional representation, so Turks vote for party lists rather than candidates and the seat numbers correspond to votes cast per party rather than alliances. The 600 members represent 87 electoral districts in 81 provinces.

Electoral districts are allocated parliamentary seats in proportion to their population.


Expectations and Predictions:


Expert opinions and forecasts play a vital role in shaping the discourse surrounding elections. Several Analysts had predicted a record voter turnout this year, and a tight race between the incumbent Erdogan and the main opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and presidential nominee for the six-party Nation Alliance coalition. Some analysts also believe that if Erdogan loses the Election by a small margin, it  would open up the possibility for him to contest the results.


Turkey Election 2023 is a pivotal moment for the country’s political journey. As voters prepare to exercise their democratic rights, the outcome of this election will have far-reaching consequences. It is an opportunity for Turkey to shape its future and set a course for progress and development in the years to come.


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