What you need to know about the snap Turkish elections
- Attempts have been made to encourage former President Abdullah Gul to run against President Erdogan. The aim behind these attempts is to split the Islamist vote. Although Gul appears to have rejected the opportunity to run, his silence has been noted by AK Parti supporters as a sign of discontent. President Erdogan has sought to allay fears of party disgruntlement by appearing in public with former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu; another senior figure believed to be unhappy with Erdogan.
- There are concerns over the economic slowdown and there are few optimistic outlooks for the next five years. By calling an election now, President Erdogan will secure breathing space in order to tackle the falling value of the lira as well as the flight of FDI. In other words, better an election when the economy is still functioning reasonably than amidst an uncontrollable crisis.
- A considerable number of Turkish businessmen believe that the current crisis concerning the lira defies economic reasoning, with suggestions that market speculation is being intentionally fuelled by Europe and the US to undermine Erdogan in the build-up to the elections.
- The Turkish government’s war with the PKK and YPG has stirred nationalist sentiment. President Erdogan will seek to ride this wave during the elections on the back of Operation Olive Branch in Afrin. Kurdish community is divided over the Turkish government’s conduct towards the Kurds. More religious elements remain supporters of AK Parti, decrying the “communist, religious-hating PKK and YPG”. More secular-leaning Kurds are divided as PKK, YPG and even the Peshmerga jostle for the leadership of the independent Kurdish movement.
- The most profound aspect of the election is the pervasive belief in the political sphere that only an Islamist-leaning opposition can defeat the Islamist-leaning incumbent, a sign of a changing, or perhaps liberated, demographic.