Six Turkish opposition parties are stepping up cooperation in a bid to oust Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in elections slated for 2023, adding to the pressure on the president at a time when opinion polls show support for his ruling coalition is waning.
Participants in the talks said the six sides held their third meeting on Tuesday and plan to hold weekly meetings to agree on common principles by the end of the year, expanding coordination between them which dealt Erdogan a heavy blow in the 2019 local elections.
“The opposition in Turkey is trying something that no one has tried before, which is to unite against the government,” political scientist Murat Tekin said.
Support for Erdogan’s government is waning amid criticism of its handling of economic issues such as high inflation and unemployment, the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires and flooding.
Opinion polls indicate that the percentage of support for the Justice and Development Party is between 31% and 33%, compared to 42.6% in the 2018 legislative elections. Polls also indicate that the rate of support for the Party is between 31% and 33%. of the nationalist movement, an ally of Justice and the Development Party, ranges between eight and nine percent, down from 11.1 percent, meaning Erdogan will lose control of parliament in the next election.
The participants said that the talks of the opposition parties aim to identify common principles between them and not to agree on a candidate for the presidential election as their aim is to get rid of the presidential system which started in 2018 and to return to the parliamentary system.
Bahadir Erdem, vice chairman of the Good Party, said the six parties agreed to focus on issues such as the independence of the judiciary, media and universities, and laws relating to political parties and elections, with the aim of strengthening the separation of powers. and democracy.
“Bringing these six parties together gives people confidence instead of division, there is a rally, they are united on common ground,” he told Reuters. He added that this contradicts what he said was polarization under the AKP’s two-decade rule.
Muharrem Arik, deputy leader of the Republican People’s Party, who also attended the talks, said Turkey was “on the brink” with a presidential system that places much greater powers in the hands of the head of state .
“The citizens’ problems are exacerbated under this one man system … a strong parliamentary system will inspire confidence,” he said. Bulent Turan, a prominent AKP MP, denounced the talks to restore the parliamentary system, calling them “reactionary”. He said the new system worked well and reduced political instability.
However, the second largest opposition party, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which has said it is not seeking to join any coalition, is not participating in the talks.