Poll Suggests Decline In Public Support For Erdogan’s AKP

Story Highlights

  • Meral Aksener's rise is a threat to President Erdogan and his party
  • AKP would lose parliamentary majority if an election is held today
  • MHP loses nationalist cause to Aksener's IYI Party

A recent poll conducted by SONAR shows that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would get 38.51 percent of the all votes if a parliamentary election is held today, pointing to near 11 percent of loss from a previous election in late 2015.

The survey reveals that a significant portion of AKP supports may swing to a newly found nationalist party led by Meral Aksener in center-right of the political spectrum, signaling trouble for President Erdogan ahead of critical 2019 presidential and general elections.

SONAR made interviews with 3,000 people in 26 provinces to measure public tendencies and changes in voter behaviors. The poll has a margin of error of 1.73 percent. According to the findings, ruling AKP takes the lead with 38.51, while main opposition secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) would get 23.50. Ms. Aksener’s IYI (Good) Party comes third with 16.06 while pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) barely makes to Parliament, obtaining 10.33 percent of the votes, meaning that it slightly passes Turkey’s notorious 10 percent election threshold.

The ruling AKP has been governing Turkey for 15 years. On Nov. 1, 2015 parliamentary elections, AKP cruised to a smashing victory with 49,48 percent of the votes, establishing a single party government after five months of political uncertainty unleashed by June 7 elections when the party lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since its inception.

After the establishment of IYI Party, another loser appears to be Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). According to poll results, MHP is dislodged from third place with the breakaway nationalist faction IYI Party, only getting 7.78 percent and failing to get a seat in Parliament due to the threshold rule.

Ms. Aksener’s thrust into political scene has a great potential to upset the balance in the political landscape, with ominous consequences for President Erdogan’s aspirations for the presidential elections after a constitutional referendum in April that ushered in a systemic change in political system. The poll not only spells trouble for AKP’s parliamentary majority but also means a serious threat to President Erdogan’s dream for the executive presidency.

Any vote less than 50 percent would cost a presidency for Mr. Erdogan who heavily invested in the constitutional reform to introduce the presidential system.

Ms. Aksener’s insurgency in her native MHP for a leadership change was dented by an alignment between the incumbent leader, Devlet Bahceli, and the president after Mr. Bahceli’s policy shift from opposition to the presidential system to fervently embracing Mr. Erdogan’s bid. The president helped MHP leader crush intra-party challenge to his grip over the nationalist party for two decades.

But a new nationalist party, as polls show, means that MHP would fail to pass election threshold, lose its leading role and claim to represent Turkish nationalism in the political realm.

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