Skip to main content

Will Turkish opposition rally around Erdogan challenger in 2019?

If the opposition unifies around a candidate who can attract varied segments of votes, Erdoganism may not become the only game in town by the 2019 presidential election.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech at the ruling AK Party's headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RTS14S96
Read in 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan got the all-powerful presidential system he had been craving for in Turkey's April 16 referendum. Now, with the constitution amended according to his wishes, Erdogan will have full control over the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government. But the same referendum also deprived Erdogan of the major victory he was hoping for. In fact, it created a major risk for him in the next presidential elections in November 2019.

Why was the referendum not a major victory for Erdogan? Because only 51.4% of the electorate said "yes" to the constitutional amendments that increased the president's powers. Both Erdogan and his supporters, however, were expecting a much higher level of support — around 60%. This was based on the calculation that not just Erdogan's own Justice and Development Party (AKP), but also the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) was campaigning for "yes." (In the latest general elections in November 2015, the AKP had won 49% and the MHP had won 12% — so their total number would exceed 60%.) Moreover, the whole state apparatus was mobilized for the "yes" vote, creating a very unfair propaganda scene at the expense of the "no" camp.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.