Turkish opposition creating record long pre-election period – columnist

Turkey’s opposition parties are creating the longest pre-election period in the country’s history with their constant campaigning for early polls, Burhanettin Duran, a columnist for Daily Sabah said on Monday.

However, it’s not going to be easy for main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Good Party (IP) leader Meral Akşener to settle on a joint candidate to run against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in presidential elections, said Duran, who is the general coordinator for pro-government think tank SETA.

“It serves the incumbent’s interests that the opposition opts against fielding its champion until the last possible moment,” he said.

Turkey’s next presidential elections are scheduled for 2023. Turkey’s opposition parties are planning to field a joint candidate to run against Erdoğan.

The ongoing talks over the elections and candidates are fuelling the "survival" debate anew and “If the Turkish people will spend the next election cycle talking about survival, it will be mostly due to the opposition’s commitment to negative campaigning,” according to Duran.

The attempt to unite the opposition is based on three elements, Duran said, namely “the duality between authoritarianism and democracy, rooted in anti-Erdoğanism”, “spinning the slightest problem or most minor false claim into an existential threat to call for early elections,” and “the idea of restoring the parliamentary system of government.”

While the first two elements are quite “self-explanatory,” the third one is “intended to misportray the presidential system as the mother of all crises”, he said.

“Opposition leaders do not, however, explain what exactly they mean by “restoring parliamentarism” or how that transition is supposed to address existing problems,” Duran said.