Turkish parties’ new tendencies can change authorities’ political balance
Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 28 / Trend , B.Hasanov/
It is not expected that serious surprises will occur in the municipal elections to be held in March. However, if political parties' strategies which they use in the election campaign are not reconsidered, a political balance may change in the future.
"If leading opposition parties hold the developed strategy during arrangements to the March elections, they can gain majority electorates' votes," Turkish Expert Tanju Tosun told Trend in a telephone conversation from Izmir on Feb. 28.
The municipal elections will be held in Turkey on March 29. Municipalities play a key role in governing cities, settlements, villages and other administrative territories. Therefore, these elections are too important. The municipal elections are a good opportunity for political parties to demonstrate their social power in the country. Therefore, political parties are seriously preparing to this process. Political parties are using different election strategies to attract majority of electorates.
Turkey's leading opposition Republican People's Party (RPP) thus far focused on secularity and was against of women's wearing hijab at work and educational institutions. Recently, the organization has accepted several women with hijabs to its ranks. Moreover, the RPP's some municipal heads promised to open courses to study the Koran at every districts in the case of their election.
The second leading opposition Nationalist Movement Party (NMP) focuses on social issues and projects in its campaign instead of traditional nationalist slogans. At the same time, the NMP's candidates for heads of big cities' municipalities are people who prefer moderate political line.
The governing Justice and Development Party (JDP) is seeking to win sympathy of ethnic minorities, basically, Kurdish citizens. Thus, the government launched a TV channel in the Kurdish language. Moreover, the JDP initiated to bring Ahmet Kaya's grave who had to emigrate from Turkey to Europe due to political reasons and who is loved by the Kurdish people to the country. The governing parties' the abovementioned steps are assessed as their new election strategy. Furthermore, the party is paying a great attention to social aid and seeking to minimize people's discontent about the authorities due to the global economic crisis.
Political parties' new strategies will not seriously influence on their traditional electorates' votes in the elections on March 29, Tosun said.
In the parliamentary elections held on July 22 in 2007, the JDP gained 47 percent of votes, RPP - 21 percent and NMP - 14 percent. During the elections, the governing party promised to Kurds in the country's south-eastern part to improve their economic situation, but did not do so. Therefore, Kurds will hardly vote for them, the expert believes.
The expert thinks the RPP's strategy will not gain additional votes in the elections on March 29. "But if the organization holds the strategy toward the country's religious people, it can win their votes by gaining their trust," he said.
"The country's conservative people assess the RPP's election strategy as artificial and directed to only gaining electorates' votes in the upcoming elections," Tosun said. "To dissuade the people, the RPP must hold the current strategy after the elections on March 29, as well."
The expert believes the NMP has chosen the most pragmatic and a correct strategy in the current pre-election campaign. "Earlier, the NMP focused on the nationalists slogans, but now when the Kurdish Labor Party's (KLP) terrorism which strengthened these slogans' topicality was minimized, the NMP has changed its strategy and focused on social projects," Tosun said. "Thus, the party is seeking to hold its electorates and win votes of the JDP's moderate supporters."
European Expert Magnus Karaveli said the NMP's current election strategy will not be useful for it in the elections on March 29. However, if the NMP will continue this strategy, it can gain votes of electorates who were dissatisfied with the JDP in the next elections, he said.
Karaveli does not believe that the RPP's strategy will succeed in the current or next elections. "The RPP which earlier did not pursue a religious and conservative policy is seeking to win conservative and religious people's trust at the moment," Turkey Analyst Magazine (issued in Sweden) Chief Editor Karaveli told Trend in a telephone conversation from Stockholm on Feb. 28. "Even if these people are dissatisfied with the JDP for which they voted earlier, they will not support the RPP, but any other conservative party."
According to Karaveli, the Justice & Development Party can hold the electorates who voted for them in the elections on July 22 in 2007. The expert said the economic crisis will not seriously influence on the governing party's electorates. "The JDP will seek to minimize electorates' discontent about the economic crisis by rendering definite social aid to them," Karaveli said.
There is not any alternative of the JDP for Kurds in Turkey's south-eastern part, he said. "Kurds in the south-eastern whose majority is religious will hardly vote for the RPP or the Democratic Society Party (DSP) which pursues pro-Kurdish party, because they are far from religious values or for the NMP, as well," Karaveli said. "The JDP is the party applying to moderate, pro-Islamic and conservative people. And there is no doubt that the party will win majority of votes in the country's south-eastern part."
Director of the Konda Research Centre in Ankara Tarhan Erdem does not expect serious changes in the party's traditional electorates. Erdem gave a correct forecast for the elections held in June 22 in 2007.
"We have not conducted opinion poll yet, but I do not think there will be serious changes in the upcoming elections on March 29," Erdem told Trend from Ankara on Feb. 28.
The Turkish different research centers' investigations revealed that votes won by the parties on June 22 in 2007 remain immutable.
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