Will Erdogan lose the referendum

Can Erdogan still lose the election?

Tuesday is the last day before the elections in Turkey, on which those eligible to vote abroad can cast their votes - around 1.4 million German Turks and a good three million Turks abroad worldwide. In Germany, the polling stations in Turkish consulates close at 9 p.m.

In five days, on June 24th, parliament and president will be elected in Turkey. In surveys, 45 to 55 percent of those questioned said they wanted to vote for incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But in reality it could be much less. Hakan Bayrakçı, owner of polling firm SONAR, says those in power in Turkey created an atmosphere of fear; as a result, almost ten percent of voters did not openly say who they want to vote for. In surveys, they would give false information; therefore, according to Bayrakçı, there is a high probability that the election result will deviate from the polls.

Since the constitutional reform, which the Turks adopted in a referendum in April 2017, voters have two votes: one decides who will be the new president, the other which parties will enter parliament. For Erdogan, who has not lost an election in 16 years, the upcoming elections are likely to be the most difficult of his political career. Since his first election victory in 2002, his Islamic-conservative AKP has shaped politics in Turkey. The party is also preparing for its toughest election.

Problems in the country are worsening

Özer Sencar, head of the Metropoll opinion research institute, has been pursuing Erdogan's career for 25 years. He says he has never had such a bad campaign. Erdogan no longer determines the agenda and no longer shows any visions for the future. When performing, he appears dispassionate and weak. "Never before has he made so many mistakes in his speeches," says Sencar. He doubts that Erdogan will retain power.

Erdogan has ruled for 16 years and has long been considered the strongest force in Turkish politics. Its most important success was the economic boom. In the past decade and a half, the average annual income has risen from the equivalent of $ 3,500 to $ 10,000, and there has been a real construction boom across the country.

The new presidential palace in Ankara, built by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

But today the Turkish economy is anything but good. Since the attempted coup in July 2016 and the subsequent state of emergency, the Turkish lira has lost over 30 percent of its value. As good as no more investments are made. The confidence of the international markets in the Turkish economy is waning. Erdogan, who openly rejects interest rates out of religious convictions, had to turn a blind eye when the Turkish central bank raised key interest rates in the past few weeks. After Argentina, Venezuela and Iran, Turkey is now the country with the fourth highest interest rates.

"For the first time in 16 years, Erdogan is no longer successful. He can no longer control the economy. Problems in the school and health system are also increasing," explains Sencar. According to him, the Turkish people are feeling the effects of the economic crisis. Therefore, there was little passion to be felt at Erdogan's election campaign events.

Increasingly motivated opposition

Gülfem Saydan Sanver also thinks that Erdogan is finding it increasingly difficult to convey his messages to the people. The expert did her doctorate on the subject of "AKP election success" and received the Pollie Award from the American Association of Political Consultants. Sanver says Erdogan's one-man shows within his party have turned out to be a disadvantage for him. "He's standing alone in meetings and making speeches, and he can't get his messages across," said Sanver.

According to her, Muharrem Ince, the presidential candidate of the opposition CHP, has recently managed to increase his poll numbers to over 30 percent. This also increased the opposition's motivation to win the elections. "Erdogan is still trying to serve the fears of right-wing conservative voters," says Sanver. That is why Erdogan has spoken in his election campaign speeches in recent days about the military operations against the PKK in northern Iraq. With that he wanted to stir up fears among the voters, says Sanver. Fearful voters feared a change of power and would therefore vote for the current president.

Muharrem Ince announcing his presidential candidacy

End of the strong presidential system?

According to the latest polls, Erdogan could still win the presidential election in the second round. The so-called "republican alliance" of the AKP and MHP could, however, lose a majority in parliament to the opposition. Then Erdogan would no longer have a power base in parliament. The strong presidential system, in which opposition members see a dictatorship, would remain a dream for Erdogan, according to experts.

"If the AKP loses a majority in parliament, Erdogan will face difficult days," says Sanver. After the state of emergency Erdogan passed laws and governed with decrees. "If the AKP no longer has a majority in parliament, Erdogan will lose part of his current power, even if he were re-elected. He will not be an effective president and he will have to recognize the power of parliament," said the expert.