Turkish gov’t and opposition need alliances in local elections - leading pollster

Turkey’s government and the opposition have no chance but to form alliances ahead of the local elections next year, as polarisation continues to rise in the country, Turkey’s leading pollster said to BBC Turkish on Saturday.

Bekir Ağırdır, the head of the Konda Research, predicts that the same alliances formed ahead of the June presidential and parliamentary elections will continue in the local elections to be held on March 31, 2019 throughout the 81 provinces of the country.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) formed the People’s Alliance with the far-right National Movement Party (MHP) this year for the parliamentary elections held on Jun. 24.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the nationalist Good Party, the Islamist Felicity Party, and the centre-right Democratic Party, on the other hand, formed the Nation Alliance for the same elections, excluding dominantly Kurdish People’s Democratic Party.

“Both sides have no chance but to form alliances. Because in an environment of polarisation there is no chance to change the 50-50 or the 49-51 balance,” Ağırdır said, adding that Turkey is heading towards a three-party system.

“The AKP needs an alliance because there is and because of the economic crisis and the party now failing in producing new things, it will lose votes for sure,” said Ağırdır. “In order to prevent votes to go to opposite bloc (CHP-Good Party), it needs an ally. In fact this is a paradox for the AKP. As its votes decrease, the MHP beside it gets stronger, but at the same time votes do not go to the other side,” he said.

The MHP can get even more stronger in the governing alliance after the local elections, according to Ağırdır, but this will also depend on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ability to mobilise its base.

The economic crisis inevitably affects daily life, said the pollster, adding that the households had found themselves between the pressure of polarisation and their identities and the pressure of economic problems.

As a result it is not possible for the AKP to increase its votes but the effect of economic downturn on election results is hard to predict, he said.  Ağırdır predicts that the AKP’s votes may fall from 42 percent to 40 percent.