Political Coalitions in Turkey in the Run-Up to the 2023 Elections Études de l’Ifri, April 2023
The year 2023, already marked by a deadly double earthquake in the south-east of the country in February, is the year of the centenary of the Republic, but above all an election year for Turkey.
The general elections (parliamentary and presidential) will take place on May 14 and are unanimously considered to be crucial for the political future of the country. The electoral campaign is polarized around two major coalitions: the People’s Alliance, led by the presidential Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which supports the re-election of President Erdoğan; and the Nation Alliance, formed by the main Kemalist party Republican People's Party (CHP) with five other parties, and supporting Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as a presidential candidate. Two other coalitions are also present and could tip the election one way or the other: the Labor and Freedom Alliance, centered around the progressive and pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), and the Ancestral Alliance, which supports the nationalist Sinan Oğan.
While this political configuration may seem familiar to European observers – where cross-party coalitions are common, especially in parliamentary regimes – there are indications, such as the tensions between the İYİ Party and its partners in the Nation Alliance over support for Kılıçdaroğlu, that call into question the nature of these coalitions: are they motivated by ideological proximity, or are they merely tactical tools for gaining power? In particular, these coalitions seem to derive from the nature of the Turkish political regime and its evolution over the last decade, with an ultra-presidentialization of the system under the successive presidential terms of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan which has led all political actors to position themselves in relation to his personal power. As socio-economic conditions weaken the AKP’s electoral base, the prospects for this election seem more open than ever.