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Turkey’s Election Scenarios: The Good, the Bad, and the Scary

Mustafa Akyol

Today, I have new a piece in National Review: “Turkey’s Election Scenarios: The Good, the Bad, and the Scary.”

It is about the fateful elections that Turkey will have this Sunday. (Which we will also discuss tomorrow at a Cato Institute Policy Forum: “Turkey’s Centennial Election: What Is at Stake?”)

Despite the dramatic deterioration in Turkey’s freedoms and rule of law, I explain, the elections are still real and competitive:

Turkey is not a Russia, China, or Turkmenistan, where free elections have never been held; Turks have lived under a decently competitive, free electoral system since 1950. All votes are counted openly in the presence of opposition‐​party representatives and independent observers, so it is not easy to cheat. That is why Erdogan’s ruling AK Party grudgingly lost the country’s two biggest cities, Istanbul and Ankara, to opposition mayors in 2019.

Which is why the presidential race between President Erdogan and the opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu is very tight. I see three possible scenarios — the good, the bad, and the scary:

The good scenario is that the opposition wins decisively, and Erdogan has no choice but to concede.

The bad scenario is that Erdogan wins decisively, as he has won every other election in the past two decades.

The scary scenario is a dispute over the results, which could escalate unpredictably in a country that is already extremely tense. This is possible especially if Kilicdaroglu wins with a very small margin, and Erdogan responds by taking a page from Donald Trump’s 2020 playbook. His hawkish interior minister has already prepared the way for this by calling the election “the West’s political coup attempt.”

Read more in National Review.

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