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Erdogan Puts Opposition Parties Into Nervous Breakdown as Elections Loom

By Melih Al-Tinok

March 9, 2023 

Turkiye opposition leader, Kemal Kilishdaroglu, announces his presidential candidacy, in Ankara,
March 6, 2023 sabah daily


Erdoğan puts opposition into nervous breakdown as elections loom

The opposition bloc now has a tougher job at hand after the 'table for six' collapsed, even though they reunited with compromises

While Türkiye was struggling to erase the traces of the Feb. 6 earthquakesanother quake news came from the political side last week. Two months before the presidential elections on May 14, the opposition bloc united to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been in power for 21 years, suddenly disintegrated.

The tremor started when the leader of the Good Party (IP), Meral Akşener,- who heads the second biggest partner of the opposition alliance, could not control her nerves and left the “table for six.” Akşener said she was “dismissed” from the table where five other men were sitting. The next day, she published a manifesto as sharp as a needle targeting her partners.

Akşener’s reason for leaving was the fact that Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), was being imposed as the joint candidate. Arguing that 75-year-old Kılıçdaroğlu had no chance against Erdoğan and that he was sacrificing the opposition for his ambitions, Akşener wanted the CHP’s Ankara or Istanbul mayors to be joint candidates.

Upon this development, which felt like a bomb was dropped, the opposition experienced a massive collapse in morale. They ditched out each other’s dirt. Insults and accusations were flying all over the place.

The crisis was overcome with the forced return of Akşener to the table at the beginning of the week. It is obvious that Akşener, who lost her composure, was forced to step back with the threat that a possible defeat would be blamed on her. The table for six finally announced the candidacy of CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu. Although the opposition media has already started to celebrate his victory, it is evident that the table was severely damaged in this earthquake.

First of all, the founder of the table for six has strongly admitted that they have united around the “candidate who will not win” and are rowing against the current. So now she will ask her voters to vote for this low-profile candidate.

Second, the table for six also made it clear how fragile it is in the face of the power bloc that acts in an organized and monolithic way. It pushed voters, who thought that the country’s acute problems, such as earthquakes and the cost of living, should be focused on, toward Erdoğan, who is a reassuring figure.

Moreover, another severe problem faces the opposition alliance, with only a few days left until the elections. And that is getting the support of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the legal wing of the PKK terrorist group. It is mathematically impossible for the opposition to defeat Erdoğan at the ballot box without the support of the HDP, which has around 10% of the vote.

Although she swallowed a bitter pill and sat down at the table by saying yes to Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy, Akşener continues to firmly oppose any association with the HDP. This is because her party’s base is made up of Turkish nationalists who would prefer Erdoğan rather than stand side by side with separatist Kurdish nationalists. There are similar sensitivities for the other four parties of the 6-point table, all of which have right-wing conservative voters.

Kılıçdaroğlu, on the other hand, said that the HDP should join the alliance as soon as Akşener leaves the table. He accused Akşener of hindering this union.

In the coming days, this fundamental issue will inevitably give rise to new nervous tantrums at the six-person table, which has succumbed to personal ambitions and is far from having a professional outlook.

Moreover, Erdoğan’s charismatic stance, which prefers to ignore the debates that shattered the opposition, increases the pressure on the table. When asked by journalists, the president only mentioned an Iranian proverb... “They sat, talked, dispersed,” he said. He reminded me that the country is busy with serious problems, especially earthquakes, and that they have responsibilities. It reinforced its image as a “haven in the storm.”

The table for six now has a more difficult task at hand.

Erdoğan puts opposition into nervous breakdown as elections loom | Column ( 





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