Emine Kaplan / Selda Güneysu
With eleven days to go until the election, the unease felt in the People’s Alliance set up by the AKP and MHP has begun to become palpable. Regarding the annoyance and tension caused by the two party’s endeavours above all to get votes from one another’s base, the following assessments are doing the rounds in the two parties’ lobbies:
Compensating with votes from the AKP: A dispute is going on between AKP and MHP parliamentary candidates as they eye up the votes. With the MHP incapable of establishing an adequate presence in many AKP-stronghold sub-provinces and villages in the 7 June and 1 November elections, local AKP candidates are said to be troubled at campaigning by MHP candidates in these areas. The MHP is apparently clawing back the votes known to the party as the “White Wolves” it lost to the AKP in other elections to compensate for the base that moved to the Good Party after the 1 November elections. It is thus being alleged that the AKP has lost its base to the MHP in certain places, especially in the Central Anatolian and Black Sea Regions. This situation is said to be troubling AKP parliamentary candidates while out campaigning on the stump.
MHP people will get into parliament, not us: It is stressed that the interest aroused among AKP voters by MHP General Chair Devlet Bahçeli’s closeness to the AKP ushered in by the Yenikapı spirit especially after 15 July has led to disputes among candidates in the field. Cross-border military operations such as Olive Branch and the Afrin Operation against the PKK, YPG and Islamic State terrorist organisations are also said to have swung the votes on the ground towards the MHP more than the AKP. There is thus talk of AKP candidates complaining that MHP candidates may be elected in their place thanks to the alliance, which will serve to weaken the AKP, and that the AKP should be strong in parliament, not the MHP.
Promise of MHP votes from the household: There is talk of MHP candidates, particularly while campaigning in the AKP stronghold of Central Anatolia, encountering declarations from voters that households which had previously voted entirely for the AKP would now split their votes between the AKP and MHP. The AKP is stated to be nervous about voters who had previously voted for the AKP being inclined to vote for Erdoğan in the presidential elections, but for the MHP in parliamentary elections.
Stress on the AKP, not the alliance: Comments that candidates in certain provinces in which the AKP has a strong electoral base are making on the stump with reference to MHP people are a frequent cause of tension between the two parties. The rhetoric “Our candidate is Tayyip Erdoğan” employed by MHP candidates on the stump and General Chair Devlet Bahçeli in almost every speech of his supposedly invites reactions from AKP candidates that they are trying to garner votes through the AKP.
Candidates in Ankara with an ultranationalist past: The AKP is fielding figures with an ultranationalist past such as Tuğrul Türkeş, BBP General Chair Mustafa Destici and Naci Bostancı in first place in the Ankara regions. This situation is said to be troubling the MHP base. Reactions along the lines that, had the AKP been sincere about the alliance, it would not have put candidates with MHP roots at the top of the list is seemingly causing tension.
Türkeş’s comments are harming the alliance: Discussions within the AKP about the comment by Alparslan Türkeş’s son Tuğrul Türkeş with reference to the alliance, “The People’s Alliance will end after the 24 June elections. Bahçeli, in saying, ‘I will not be deputy president, I will not supply ministers to the government and I would consider such things to be disgraceful,’ is indicating that the AKP will continue to govern on its own after 24 June” are also noted to be troubling the MHP wing. With similar statements being made by AKP administrators, especially parliamentary candidates, in the wake of Türkeş’s comments, this is felt to have harmed the alliance between the AKP and MHP.
Bahçeli chipping away at the AKP: The AKP is uncomfortable with Bahçeli constantly speaking of and insisting on a pardon and essentially directing flak at the AKP while appearing to be criticising certain AKP candidates. AKP administrators voice the view that Bahçeli is trying to attract both the votes that have fled to the Good Party and the ultranationalist votes within the AKP to his own party by chipping away at their party and they do not find this to be at all fitting or correct. There are also comments within the party that in certain provinces Bahçeli is trying to attract certain people who are upset and annoyed about the AKP’s lists of parliamentary candidates to his own party. Certain AKP people, noting that the MHP is below the threshold in the polls and will be able to enter parliament because it has made an alliance with the AKP, are uncomfortable that Bahçeli ignores this and makes pronouncements.
Distrust of Bahçeli continues: Despite pronouncements by President Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and party administrators that the alliance with the MHP is sound and will continue after the election, a section within the AKP does not trust Bahçeli. Certain AKP people, recalling Bahçeli’s comment three days before the 16 April referendum in response to discussion of the autonomous region system, “Thought must be given to what the decision will be of ultranationalists who are minded towards a unitary structure,” are concerned that another such event may be experienced shortly before the election.
Getting through to the election problem-free: The share of the vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections falls below expectations in polls commissioned by the AKP. It is noted that Erdoğan’s vote in the presidential election is at most hovering around 50% with the MHP’s added contribution and Erdoğan needs the MHP’s vote to win. Erdoğan and Yıldırım’s comments the day before yesterday that MHP people could also be included in the cabinet in response to Bahçeli’s criticisms are interpreted as being an endeavour to get the alliance through to the election problem-free.