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Polling guru says opposition freed from idea of AKP’s psychological superiority

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Bekir Ağırdır, the general manager of KONDA, one of Turkey’s leading polling companies, said the feeling of “Whatever we do, the AKP [Justice and Development Party] wins”has faded among the opposition, in an interview with the Cumhuriyet daily on Friday.

“It’s an important threshold,”Ağırdır argued, adding: “It is not enough to win, but it’s still a success in this period. If you don’t have self-confidence, the voters sense that.”

Ağırdır also recalled the results of the 2017 referendum, which was almost equally split between votes in favor and against. After mentioning the disadvantageous circumstances surrounding the referendum, he presented a 48.6 percent ‘No’ vote as a success story. “So it seems if the opposition can develop the right moves and more reasonable strategies, they can reach 55 or 60 percent.”

On April 16, 2017 the Turkish public voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that introduced an executive presidency to the country.

According to Ağırdır, control of the election campaign is not in the hands of the AKP; instead, the opposition can capitalize on incentives. This is a handicap for the ruling party according to Ağırdır because the AKP does not align itself well with defensive strategies.

KONDA became famous in the Turkish polling business when they predicted the AKP’s victory with almost 47 percent of the vote in the 2007 parliamentary elections, while others did not give much credence to the party.

This time, Ağırdır says the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is key for the success of the opposition because if they fail to enter Parliament, the AKP will gain more deputies since in the Kurdish-populated regions the AKP and HDP are the main political actors.

To a question comparing the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Muharrem İnce and the İYİ (Good) Party’s Meral Akşener in terms of their chances of becoming a rival to incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a possible second round of voting, Ağırdır also suggested that İnce’s candidacy had secured the vote of the CHP’s conventional supporters.

“However, this is a problem for Meral Akşener because people who choose the İYİ Party are from the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party [MHP]. İnce’s candidacy prevents the defection of voters from the CHP to the İYİ Party. Akşener’s chances will be determined by the votes she can manage to pluck from the MHP and the AKP,”said Ağırdır.

One of the curious questions of Turkish politics is what would happen if Erdoğan wins the presidency and loses Parliament. According to Ağırdır, Erdoğan would exceed the limits of his presidential powers in order to prevent Parliament’s interference in political decisions.

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