Istanbul – As Turkish voters prepare to head to the polls on Sunday to elect a new parliament, public surveys indicate the conservative Justice and Development (AK) party is in the lead.
The Justice and Development (AK) Party, the ruling party for the past 13 years, is seeking to secure two-thirds of the 550 seats in the parliament in order to change the constitution to replace Turkey’s 92-year-old parliamentary system for a presidential system.
However, the majority of surveys suggest that a victory with such a large margin is unlikely for the AK Party.
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All the other three main parties likely to pass Turkey’s 10 percent threshold for entry parliament – the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) and the left-wing pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) – are against such a change.
Along with the presidential system debate, economic promises, alleged corruption and waste within the state, and the Kurdish issue appear to be dominating the election.
Al Jazeera talked to Turkish voters across the nation to gauge the mood.
|Salih Sonmez, 42, cook, Mersin|
|Munevver Karaca, 52, housewife, Sivas|
I will vote for the AK Party because of its services to this nation in many ways. I think Turkey is having the best times in its history.
The country is developing in all areas. We get better health services, and transportation is much easier. Buses are always on time now.
Services are far better now and people vote for services they receive.
Elections are always fair in Turkey and, God willing, the AK Party is going to win the elections and continue to govern Turkey.
|Emel Huba, 55, pensioner, Istanbul|
I will vote for the CHP to get rid of this corrupt government. Everything is getting worse and nothing is going to get better without the AK Party leaving power.
Turkey’s economic situation is going to determine the outcome of this election. People are struggling. My salary is 1,030 Turkish liras [approximately $400] and my husband gets a similar pension. How are we supposed to live with this money in Istanbul?
The president stays in his presidential palace that is worth billions of dollars, but the government does not want to spare a small raise to pensioners. This is wasteful and unfair. Many people regret voting for the AK Party.
The elections are not going to be fair as the government will conduct fraud throughout the process. I have seen it with my own eyes before. We are going to try our best to prevent this.
|Mehmet Kin, 31, shop owner, Istanbul|
I am a communist, so I will vote for the Communist Party.
The agendas in the last week of Turkish elections have always been very influential on the results – a sensitive sound recording might come up, or a corruption document might be revealed.
This might come from any side and target any party. The voters have very short memories in their voting attitudes, so one can never know what will happen until the very end.
In Turkey, the elections are never fair, even in cases where there is no systematic corruption in elections. People counting the votes can act in a subjective way and call some of the votes invalid in line with their political views. I have seen this as I was on duty at a polling station.
A worse Turkey awaits us after the elections.
|Omer Harman, 19, waiter, Istanbul|
I will vote for the AK Party as I want the country to remain stable. I do not want a coalition government.
I am happy with the way Turkey is today and I expect the AK Party to stay in power after the elections to make it even better. Promises by other parties, such as large increases of the minimum wage, are not realistic.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, our president, had been the prime minister of this country for 10 years, carrying it to another level with [public] services provided to Turks. The country is stable with a strong government. I want it to stay this way.
|Kenan Er, 49, pensioner, Istanbul|
I am a CHP voter because it is a party supporting Turkey’s patriotic values.
People will vote both according to the economic and political situation in the country. It is a mix of both factors. I don’t expect the elections to change much in the country.
I don’t believe the last three elections were fair. The AK Party has been manipulating the votes. And it is going to stay that way as they use the tools of the state institutions for this goal.
I don’t expect the AK Party to win a single-party majority in the parliament, even with its fraud attempts. It is still going to lead the polls though.
|Ulku Gurun, 60, English teacher, Canakkale|
|Gokalp Ali Baz, 28, financial adviser, Ankara|