Presidential candidates: Advantages, disadvantages - ÖZLEM ALBAYRAK

Presidential candidates: Advantages, disadvantages

By the time my next column is published, the elections and the excitement surrounding it will be over and done with, and the results will have been announced. Therefore, today, with only two days left for elections, I suppose it will be beneficial to take a brief look at the position of the candidates, and to evaluate their advantages and disadvantages.

President Erdoğan: If we were to start with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, I think everyone would agree the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Erdoğan has prioritized technology investment lately. The production of domestic Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV), efforts for a domestic automobile production, and similar steps have consolidated Erdoğan's "domestic and national" rhetoric. Moreover, these automatically eliminated criticisms of the opposition such as "To what extent can roads and bridges be built?” or “Can a country develop only by building houses?", and thus Erdoğan responded by virtually saying, "There’s more to it than that."

The president, thanks to the same "domestic and national" rhetoric, turned the volatility in foreign exchange rates and the rapid increase in fruit and vegetable prices into an occasion to consolidate votes for the Justice and Development (AK) Party, let alone losing votes. In every extraordinary price increase, international operation centers were pointed to. Even if they had nothing to do with it, the bad reputations of those institutions had voters feeling that the leader that they had picked, in other words their will, was being attacked.

The disadvantage is that 16 years is a long time especially for a country like Turkey. It might seem even longer considering the fact that Turkey is accustomed to being ruled by coalition or short-term governments.

Without a doubt, fatigue can be observed both in the AK Party and in its electorate. Moreover, it is still dubious how convincing the arguments are that young voters, who have no idea about the Turkey before its ruling, should vote for none other than the AK Party. There is already an agreement on the fact that party officials are not able to establish a close relationship with young voters, the Kurds, those who are still ambivalent, the fatigued, and it is anticipated that if the AK Party loses some votes, it will be due to the aforementioned aspects.

Muharrem İnce: Just like Erdoğan, Republican People's Party (CHP) presidential candidate İnce also has an image of being a "man of the people" and we would normally list it as a major advantage. If only such a character as a man of the people had not been transformed into vulgarity, rudeness and an ignorance which has transformed into cunning. Actually, there is "a man of the people", and there is another so-called “man of the people."

A bold character, who is a man of his words, disciplined, hard-working, compassionate and follows religious practices can obtain the title of being a “man of the people” just as well as someone who secretly drinks alcohol at weddings but is apparently religious and acts profanely can. This is the first time that Muharrem İnce appears before the masses. Therefore, it undeniable that he creates a wave of excitement. However, since the very beginning, it has been difficult for him to persuade the masses about his sincerity due to the aforementioned characteristics.

The advantage of İnce is that he did not make a big blunder apart from the threatening statement saying, "I will will rip off your epaulettes” for the commander of the Afrin operation, İsmail Metin Temel Pasha. It can be said that İnce is a breath of fresh air and a figure who has not been given a chance before. It is also thought that he does not suffer from ideological blindness. However, if he wins the elections, it would not be too difficult to foresee that the Kemalist ideology running in the state’s veins would awaken from its slumber; nor would it be difficult to foresee that a possible ban of the headscarf, despite İnce saying he has no problem with it, is on its way.

Meral Akşener: To tell you the truth, this was not what I expected from Akşener. She is talking about sending back the Syrians, stopping the activities of a reputable institution like the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) and suspending funds of the National Intelligence Service (MİT). I do not know what to call it other than her "shooting herself in the foot." Well, her reaction - far superior than of a frontrunner man -, oregarding the Feb. 28 events, definitely leaves a margin of terror regarding judgements about her.

Being a woman is also a factor that increases the likelihood of her obtaining sympathy in society. On the other hand, the only people who are against MİT, or have difficulty in appreciating the international activities of TİKA are the supporters of the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ). Akşener has personally answered the question: "Does she have any connection with FETÖ?” which has been hovering over her since the very beginning, and thus eliminated the need for other comments on this matter. Why would a person start a fight against the intelligence agency of her own country, which she would like to be president of?

Temel Karamollaoğlu: His main disadvantage is that his party is involved in the Nation Alliance lead by the CHP. Even an ephemeral cooperation of the Felicity Party (SP) with CHP is perceived as an existential contradiction by religious voters. However, if Karamollaoğlu had not taken part in this alliance, it is very likely that his party would not pass the 10 percent electoral threshold. The advantage of Karamollaoğlu is that his party will be the only choice in the elections on June 24, for the conservatives who have turned their backs on Erdoğan for such and such reasons. In fact, in previous elections, those who were concerned that their party would not even pass the electoral threshold say that their party will go over electoral threshold in this election.

Selahattin Demirtaş: His advantage is that he is in prison. His disadvantage is that he was not able to channel his support that he had in 2014 into an effort for democracy, the only result of his success was that it cultivated the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terror group. Regarding the incidences on Oct. 6-7, his role as an instigator will be definitely remembered, even if hundreds of years pass by.

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