Ankara, 8 August 2014 – Most of people I have talked to here in the Turkish capital city believe that it is almost a clear case that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will win in Sunday’s presidential election. It’s about him, the person, the leader Erdogan and his 12 years of service as PM. He is the front-runner candidate.
A female student from the Faculty of Law says “it seems people don’t care much about past allegations of corruption, authoritarian style and exclusion and intimidation of the opposition.” Indeed, nationalist and secular (pro army, pro Ataturk) opposition’s candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu does not seem to have much chances. Some don’t even know his complete name. The third contender, the main Kurdish party’s candidate is mainly popular among Kurdish population.
On Sunday, more than 50 million Turks will elect the country’s president – Turkey’s first direct presidential election since its founding in 1923. With this election, Turkey will switch to a presidential system as opposed to a formal presidency and a government led by a prime minister elected by parliamentary election. Turkey’s conservative Islamic leaning party of AKP led by Prime Minister Erdogan has been ruling Turkey without need for coalition partners for the last 12 years, winning consequent national and local elections, with simple majority.
In Ankara, Erdogan’s posters and ads are overwhelming. A middle class shop keeper told me “this is a match between FC Barcelona and (the little football club of) Yozgat Spor (Yozgat is a small Anatolian city). They will shoot as many goals as they wish.” A US-educated young dentist who strongly opposes Erdogan and his political party, admits: “The tragedy here has two legs,” he says. “One is that the opposition is not offering any options for doing things better than Erdogan – they just grouch while Erdogan and his team are producing results and reforms although they also enrich themselves.” And he adds: “the second issue is that people seem not to care about all those corruption allegations against the prime minister and his arrogant behavior.”
So, apparently no surprises on Sunday in Turkey’s presidential election. FC Barcelona will clearly win against Yozgat Spor. After 12 years, Turkey’s citizens are expected to honor once again performance over corruption allegations and a Putin-style authoritarianism for seven more years. Says an enthusiastic Erdogan supporter, a young businesswoman from eastern Anatolia: “He is the nation’s man, a man like me and others, and caring abot us – regardless of all those fake accusations.” This very much sounds like the trend of the majority of voters in Turkey, according to many opinion researchers around, if not more than 50% of the total voters.
My personal estimate is that on Sunday, Aug 10, Mr. Erdogan will receive around 40% of the votes – highest but still not enough. A week later, though, in the run-off between two finalists, he will definitely make it, receiving at least 50%+1 votes of the Turkish electorate. So, like it or hate it: the name of the Turkish president at least for the next seven years is: Recep Tayyip Erdogan.