Turkey: what would a change of government mean?

Just days before the presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey on Sunday it still looks like a tight race between long-time incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his challenger Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Commentators examine the implications of an election victory for the opposition alliance over Erdoğan and his AK Party for Europe.

Open/close all quotes
Politiken (DK) /

A truly decisive election

Politiken hopes for a victory for the opposition:

“A change of government would not only be good for Turkey. If the Turks show Erdoğan the door, it would also be good news for the EU and the Western world. Turkey will give up its opposition to Sweden joining Nato, and Kılıçdaroğlu has promised that the country will once again respect the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. All in all, simply a change of government will do much to improve Turkey's very tense relations with both the EU and the US. In general, Erdogan's fall would be a victory for democracy.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Situation will remain complicated

Erdoğan being voted out of office would not necessarily mean better relations between Turkey and the West, Handelsblatt points out:

“Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has already announced that he would stick to Erdogan's foreign policy principles if he wins the elections. That means: no sanctions against Russia, no general ties to the West. He wants to send back the almost four million Syrian migrants currently in Turkey as soon as possible. Many of them will opt to travel to the EU by rubber dinghy. Relations will remain complicated even after a change of power. It is more important than ever that the West comes up with a coherent Turkey policy, which has been lacking so far - irrespective of who ends up governing the country.”

De Standaard (BE) /

A different country under Kılıçdaroğlu

Whatever else happens, Turkey will make a historic change of direction if Kılıçdaroğlu is elected, De Standaard notes:

“If he wins, it will undoubtedly quickly become clear that even the amiable Kılıçdaroğlu has his weaknesses and bad habits. The fact is, however, that the course set by the opposition leader will turn Turkey into a different country. More respectful of the diversity of its own population, more trustworthy and less touchy about Europe. What he promises is nothing less than a turning point.”

Aktuality.sk (SK) /

United on the refugee issue

Migration pressure on the EU could increase after the elections, Aktuality.sk fears:

“Even if the two favourites in the Turkish presidential election disagree on almost everything, on one issue they agree: both want to send the Syrian refugees home as soon as possible. ... The Syrians have reacted to this with dismay. They have no intention of returning home and are instead planning further attempts to reach EU countries. If the election winner really insists that the Syrians return home, the situation could degenerate into an exodus of Syrian refugees to Europe. The European Union in particular may end up losing the Turkish elections.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

EU could be faced with a new problem

With a new government, the topic of Turkey joining the EU could be back on the agenda, The Irish Times explains:

“The AKP has historic achievements to its credit in growing the Turkish economy. But its recent record, and that of Erdoğan, is more problematic, with political repression, galloping inflation, a currency collapse and a slow response to February’s catastrophic earthquake. A victory for Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu would be generally welcomed in Europe. There is, however, the danger of civil unrest if the AKP refuses to accept the result. An opposition victory could also put Turkish accession to the EU back on the agenda, a development which would not be welcomed by all current members.”