Turkey local elections ’19. Thoughts on national vote distribution.

Let’s focus on comparisons with last local elections 2014 for national shares of votes. (*note at bottom on parties for those not very familiar with Turkish politics, links to voting information here for 2014 and here for 2019).
1. It’s very soon to say anything definitive about city by city, municipality by municipality results in Turkey.
2. Big stories are that Ankara appears to have gone to the opposition and Istanbul is very very close, enough to be embarrassing for the AKP even if they do scrape in, but OK they will still have the Power.
3. It does look like the largest opposition party, CHP, has made substantial progress in municipalities controlled. For reasons I’ll make clear below, I think this is probably about IYI Parti support
4. National vote distribution is clear, highly unlikely to change by more than one or two per centage points.
5. Compared with 2014, AKP and CHP are about the same, MHP is down and HDP is about the same.
6. MHP is doing well on municipality by municipality basis in some cases winning from AKP, so this may be declared a good night for MHP (just as HDP is losing municipalities on a stable per centage since 2014)
7. BUT their per centage is substantially down since 2014 local elections and 2018 national elections.
8. Their national vote in 2014 corresponds with the total of MHP and IP votes in this election.
9. The IP is a break away from MHP, offering a more moderate version of its ‘grey wolf/idealist hearths’ tradition, corresponding to the aspect which overlapped with the centre right and the more nationalist aspects of centre-left thinking (which has strong Jacobin-Kemalist roots).
10. The CHP candidate for Ankara, Mansur Yavaş is an MHP defector in this mould.
11. Given how right wing/nationalist the balance of Turkish politics is, IP could be the middle ground. It is allied with CHP and IP votes are going to CHP in just about all the larger urban centres as IP has stood down).
12. There was a de facto CHP-MHP alliance in 2014 (with a token MHP candidate in Ankara and other places were CHP had hopes), since when MHP has gone over to Erdoğanist alliance and split.
13. It looks to me like there is a bigger turn out of moderate nationalists for the CHP than in 2014 in target municipalities and that has made the difference. In 2014 MHP voters who didn’t like the CHP could still vote for their own candidate, or perhaps defect to AKP or stay at home. Nationally some CHP votes will have shifted to IP in small towns it is targetting.
12. The AKP vote look solid given economic difficulties, even if there is a bit more fiddling of votes than in 2014. This leaves the question of whether the AKP base does not blame it all for economic difficulties, or whether it distinguishes between local AKP leaders and Erdoğan.
13. Economic difficulties likely to get worse, so it remains to be seen what effect that will have on the AKP base for the 2023 national elections, when it is likely to have experienced years of economic stagnation and high inflation.
14. Yes local elections are about local issues, and local alliances/strategic voting to some degree but not entirely. If we look at local elections as purely a locality by locality phenomenon then logically we can’t connect it with national politics at all. Well everyone does in practice connect it with national politics and I suggest it is a reasonable, if very rough, rule of thumb to say that national percentages average out local issues and tell us something about national mood, particularly when a like to like comparison is made with previous local elections, when to a large degree there were the same local issues
*Note on parties: AKP (JDP: Justice and Development Party). Erdoğan’s party. Nationalist. Religious. Conservative. CHP (RPP: Republican People’s Party). Centre left. Social democrat. Secularist. Republican national/Jacobin-Kemalist. MHP (NAP) Hard core nationalist. Pan-Turkisti Ottomanist and national-republican elements. IP (GP: Good Party) Same roots at MHP but more moderate, closer to centre-right and centre-left national republicans. HDP (PDP: People’s Democratic Party) Kurdish rights/Kurdish resistance, socialist left, minority rights.

Turkey Local Elections 31 March 2019

Local elections in Turkey today across the country.
1. Ankara and Istanbul could fall to opposition according to many, though not all opinion polls.
2. Bursa, Antalya, Adana, Balıkesir, Denzili, Şanliurfa seem to be the other cities with the highest chance of a shift to the opposition
3. State media extremely hostile to opposition as is most ‘private’ (mostly owned by government cronies sometimes due to rigged auctions and purchases by consortia formed for political reasons.
4. Hostility means constant claims that the opposition is pro-terrorist, anti-Muslim, treasonous, working with religious community associated with 2016 coup attempt, and criminal.
5. So, any opposition victory is in the face of a public sphere and state apparatus dominated by pro-Erdoganist bias of an aggressively intolerant kind, so is double the achievement it appears to be
6. Bad and worsening economic/living standards situation should at least persuade some previous pro-govt voters to stay at home or defect
7. Pro-Erdoğan ‘Republican’ (hard religious and national right) alliance versus opposition (centre left and centre right) ‘National’ alliance the main contest, but leftist-Kurdish autonomy HDP important in the southeast. Also religious conservative SP could be important in attracting defectors from Erdoğan, not in very large numbers but enough to make a difference.
1. Never be sure about polls
2. Good reason to suspect that large scale vote rigging is likely
3. Good reason to believe that Ankara was vote was rigged, if by a small margin in 2014 and the situation has got worse since then, particularly in the 2017 referendum to create a hyper-presidential/elective sultan republic.
4. AKP apparatus doing everything to minimise economic problems and blame them on foreign conspiracy
5. Government has removed elected administrations and replaced them with state ‘administrators’ (AKP cronies) in many opposition municipalities, particularly in the (Kurdish majority) southeast
6. Looks like government-state-AKP (there is very little difference between them) may try to prosecute main opposition candidate in Ankara and disqualify him on the basis of nonsense claims of criminality circulated just in time for the election
7. Particularly strong suspicions that Erdoğan regards the loss of Istanbul as unacceptable and would authorise more than the marginal manipulation of the vote which has become normal
8. HDP treated as a barely legal party and subject to extreme and systematic harassment
9. So the question of the moment is now, not just how votes are cast, but how far the AKP apparatus will go in manipulating the vote, and then how far it will go in replacing elected mayors with government appointments.
10. Personally I regard any opposition loss by a margin of up to 2% as definitely the result of rigging and fear that rigging could be worse than that.