Have the Boundaries of an Alliance between Turkey's Opposition Parties already been Drawn?

How will the opposition bloc in Turkey manage to form a balance between their ideological orientation and their interests? The answer to this question reflects the main crisis within this bloc. 

Have the Boundaries of an Alliance between Turkey's Opposition Parties
Results of presidential and parliamentary elections are being followed by people at the Republican People's Party (CHP) Headquarters in Ankara, Turkey on June 24, 2018. Anadolu Agency

Since there is less than four months until the 2019 local elections, all political parties are busy nowadays trying to finalize their candidate selection process and election manifesto. Nevertheless, as a new phenomenon in Turkish politics, the issue of pre-electoral alliances are at the top of the agenda of all political parties. Even though the People’s Alliance, which consists of the AK Party and the MHP are about to finalize their negotiation process, the opposition block of the CHP, Iyi Party, and HDP are still discussing the boundaries and limitations of forming an alliance.

It is crucial to make process-tracing in order to understand the roots of problematic issues within this block. It was announced that the Nation Alliance that was formed between the CHP, Iyi Party, and Felicity Party had been terminated after the June 24 elections. These parties made harsh criticisms against each other and about the failure of this alliance in the parliamentary elections. It was a well-known fact that the opposition parties formed an alliance solely to stand against the People’s Alliance.

The parties that formed the Nation Alliance have different ideological orientations and political agendas about the future of Turkey. Nowadays, there is an ongoing discussion on whether differences in their ideological orientations prevent the formation of pre-electoral alliances in local elections within this opposition bloc. Even prominent political figures of this block pay attention to the danger, which may bring more destruction to their own parties. How will these parties manage to form a balance between their ideological orientation and the interests of the opposition block? The answer of this question reflects the main crisis within this bloc.

How will the opposition bloc in Turkey manage to form a balance between their ideological orientation and their interests? The answer to this question reflects the main crisis within this bloc. 

It is obvious that the main aim of the opposition parties is preventing the success of the People’s Alliance in local elections. In accordance with this purpose, the parties are trying to form an alliance, especially in critical provinces such as Istanbul, Ankara, Adana, and Mersin. The parties in the opposition block face a conflict of interests for these provinces and therefore negotiations fail to be carried forward.

The Iyi Party, which was established almost a year ago, sees these local elections as a springboard for its future. Since the party experienced a serious existential crisis after the June 24 elections, the local elections are perceived as a way of overcoming the crisis. Due to this, the Iyi Party wants to win the local elections especially in Ankara, Adana, and Mersin. The party claims that there is a significant number of voters in these provinces and that CHP should not nominate any candidate in these provinces. Nevertheless, as Turkey’s main opposition party, the CHP is not open to withdrawing from these provinces in favor of the Iyi party. This issue is the main reason of the conflict of interest within the block.

The Iyi Party, which was established almost a year ago, sees the 2019 local elections as a springboard for its future. Since the party experienced a serious existential crisis after the June 24 elections, the local elections are perceived as a way of overcoming the crisis.

Moreover, these parties have different opinions on the boundaries of the alliance. While the CHP is willing to include the HDP in this alliance, the Iyi Party is against this. At the end of the day, the HDP’s position within the opposition block becomes a serious problem for the future of this opposition block. Even though the leaders of the CHP and Iyi Party will have a meeting this week, it seems difficult to overcome all these problems in the short term.

Hazal Duran
Hazal Duran conducted her B.A in the fields of Turkish Language and Literature and International Relations at the TOBB University of Economics and Technology in 2012. She completed her M.A in Modern Turkish Studies at Istanbul Sehir University. While continuing her doctoral studies at Bilkent University, she is currently serving as a Researcher at the SETA Ankara Directorate of Political Studies.