Dressed in a snappy suit in the colors of the Turkish flag, Meral Aksener, the forceful leader of the right-wing Iyi Party, brought a stadium of women to a standing ovation. “They’ll get used to women as political actors,” she pledged, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.
“They’ll get used to women living and laughing freely, devoid of fear.” The all-female audience that filled the stadium in the Turkish capital cheered as Aksener declared that “Prime Minister Meral” was on her way. Her words allude to Turkey’s return to a parliamentary system in which the head of the executive is the prime minister, one of the key promises of the alliance of six opposition parties. Aksener, who is emerging as a kingmaker in determining the opposition’s candidate to challenge Erdogan, repeatedly says she will not be a presidential candidate but will become prime minister once the executive presidential system has changed.