In the run-up to the June 12 elections, both voters and executives of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) appear confident that it will gain the majority of seats allocated to represent the Central Anatolian province of Konya in Parliament.
The AK Party’s trump card in Konya is obviously Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who is set to enter Parliament for the first time this year. Konya, home to 1.3 million voters, is Davutoğlu’s hometown. He became the first non-deputy minister to be included in the Cabinet after the 2007 elections. Davutoğlu, who is on top of AK Party’s candidate list, is expected to continue as the foreign minister in the new Cabinet as well.
The CHP’s first row on its candidate list is allocated to Atilla Kart, who has been representing Konya in Parliament since 2002. Davutoğlu’s positive impact on voters from all ideological camps can be felt within Konya, while there is a considerable level of respect for Kart among voters from different camps, too. Yet, it is questionable whether Kart’s popularity will be reflected in the CHP’s votes, while Davutoğlu appears to be bidding for getting a record vote for his party in his hometown, where the AK Party received its third highest percentage of the vote in the July 22, 2007 general elections (65.31 percent). Less than two weeks ago, a mayor from the CHP joined Davutoğlu on top of the minister’s election campaign bus, becoming the second CHP politician to support Davutoğlu’s parliamentary bid despite party differences.
On May 24, Mustafa Sak, the mayor of Konya’s Tuzlukçu district, joined Davutoğlu as he addressed AK Party supporters in the district. AK Party deputies from Konya and candidates from the province for Parliament were also on the bus together with Davutoğlu and Sak. Sak’s gesture came after a CHP candidate for Parliament from Konya asked Konya voters to vote for Davutoğlu in the upcoming elections on June 12.
On the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) front, silence is prevailing after the MHP was rocked by the release of sex tapes involving its top party members recently. Consequently, 10 MHP executives resigned following two incidents involving the release of sex tapes. Some MHP voters blame the government for the release of the tapes, calling it a “conspiracy” against their party. Nevertheless, a considerable number of conservative MHP supporters laid the blame on those who got involved in illegitimate liaisons and who got caught red-handed. In the July 2007 elections, people of Konya sent 13 AK Party deputies, two MHP deputies and only one CHP deputy to Parliament. In this election, the number of seats allocated to Konya according to latest the census is 14.
The MHP and CHP are likely to send one deputy each to the Parliament in this election, with the rest of the seats going to AK Party candidates.
Meanwhile, there is a visible sympathy, particularly among Kurdish voters in the city for independent candidate Hacı Mehmet Bozdağ from the Labor, Democracy and Freedom Bloc, supported by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Bozdağ, not expected to gain a significant vote other than from his hometown, Cihanbeyli. Observers say Bozdağ may get around 20,000-22,000 votes.
CHP eyes 192,000 votes
Kart underlines that the CHP got around 82,000 votes in the 2007 elections and this figure rose to 92,000 in the 2009 local elections. For the June 12 elections, the CHP has set the target for getting 192,000 votes, Kart says. If CHP manages to get this many votes, which is 18 percent of the votes in Konya, then it is possible to assume that the CHP will get 35 percent all around Turkey, Kart suggests. “This figure may seem exaggerated to some, but if you follow convincing and reassuring policies regarding the problems of the people, then you can create breaking points in the existing charts,” Kart says, while arguing that if the CHP gets over 150,000 votes, it may send two deputies to Parliament; and if MHP remains above the election threshold, it may send three deputies to Parliament from Konya. In the 2007 parliamentary elections 65.31 percent of Konya votes went to the AK Party, 8.15 percent to the CHP and 13.01 percent to the MHP. And in the 2009 local elections the AK Party gained 68.4 percent of the votes in the city, while the CHP got 3.2 percent, the MHP 10.8 percent and the Felicity Party (SP) got 14.8 percent.