AKP (the Justice and Development Party) has launched its campaign for the local elections that wil be repeated on 23rd of June.
It seems that discourse of Ali İhsan Yavuz (the vice president of Erdoğan’s party -TN) will remain in the forefront during the campaign.
Because, what explanations used in messages being sent to voters that aim to respond to the question, “Why did the Supreme Electoral Council annul only the election for metropolitan municipality?” are exact copy of the arguments of Ali İhsan Yavuz, who publicly appeared as the ‘vice president of AKP‘ during the appeal process at the the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK).
Those explanations seemed to be far from being satisfactory even for the voter base of AKP.
One week of the six-week period for the re-run preparation and election campaign has almost gone. The contesting parties haven’t done the best out of this initial week. Understandably, the both sides, besides maintaining the support of the people who voted for them in the first election, aim to mobilize their potential supporters to go to polls and, more importantly, attract some voters from the opposite side.
In the general elections in 2015, AKP had used the six-month period effectively. The party leadership must be expecting to achieve the same in a six-week period this time.
We will see if Yavuz’s rhetoric will prove to be good enough for this.
Discourse on ‘survival of the nation’ and HDP voters
AK Party and its allies had prioritized the notion of ‘national survival’ during the campaign prior to the 31 March elections. Was this effective? Yes, it was. The mobilization around this notion was particularly effective in urging the core AKP voters to go to polls, and causing disillusioned supporters to vote for its ally, MHP (the Nationalist Movement Party, a right-wing party supporting Erdoğan TN) instead of voting for the opposition.
It is said that the rhetoric of ‘national survival’ will not be used that much during the campaign for the re-run.
Pushing this rhetoric into the background must have something to do with the intention to attract some of HDP voters (the Peoples Democratic Party is a left-wing, pro-minority party enjoying popular support from Kurds -TN). In the previous election, the concept of ‘national survival’ had been used in a way that it had depicted HDP as a ‘threat’ to survival. Well, since it seems the governing party considers HDP voters within the target audience this time, avoiding emphasis on the notion of ‘survival’ makes sense.
Even some pleasing gestures -at least limited to level of rhetoric- directed toward HDP voters are expected from the governing party. . .
The voter base of HDP is estimated around 12 percent of all voters in Istanbul. Majority of these people voted for the opposition. Those who did not want to vote for CHP (Republican People’s Party, the left-leaning, main opposition party -TN) for some personal reasons didn’t go to polls. Now, the ruling party will try to attract the latter through some friendly gestures.
But, one naturally wonders how this change of attitude of AKP towards HDP voters will be seen by those people who voted for the government’s candidate essentially because of the convincing power of the ‘national survival’ rhetoric. Wouldn’t an election campaign also targeting HDP supporters alienate at least some of people who voted for AK P in the last election?
Let us keep in mind that the ruling party and its allies have only five weeks to convince their conventional supporters to this sharp change in such a short period of time. . .
Ali İhsan Yavuz’s rhetoric and AKP
Of course, what also needs to be taken into consideration is possible reaction of the AKP supporters who are not clear about on what legitimate grounds the election is being repeated.
This depends on how convincing Ali İhsan Yavuz’s rhetoric is.
When AKP endeavored to annul the election, people heard different arguments from vice president of AKPas the reasons for their appeal: ‘curious and suspicious moves’ at the ballot box; manipulations during vote counting in favor of the opposition’s candidate; writing minutes intentionally wrong to increase votes for İmamoğlu, the opposition’s candidate.
Strangely, none of these claims was placed in their formal appeal at the Supreme Electoral Council as reasons for annulment.
What we eventually learned that AKP had appealed at the Council on the basis of the argument that there were some irregular processes which fall into area of responsibility of the Council or provincial electoral boards. . .
We hear that four of the seven principal members of the Council objected the appeal, that only by means of reserve members the final decision could be taken as AKP expected. . .
But, how is it possible that those irregularities, the justification of the Council’s decision, did not cause annulment of the three other votes in the same ballot envelop, but only the one for metropolitan municipality? This is quite a big question indeed.
“Nothing puzzling here; because there was no objection to the other three, so the Council took the decision in this way” doesn’t appear to be convincing, given the fact that the Counciltraditionally uses its powers in a broad manner in such issues.
Will AKP be able to deal with the confusion in minds of its own voters in such a short period of time through the discourse of Ali İhsan Yavuz?
As far as I can see, AK Parti needs to devote its campaign for the 23 June election to efforts directed at convincing its own voters. Therefore, how effective the opposition, CHP and its allies, will use the same period will be decisive. . .
I will write on this, too.
Today, I have written on AKP’s position.
[This is the translation of the article published on May 13, 2019 by Bernar Kutluğ]