The entire nation holds its breath while awaiting the election results.
It is still impossible to predict who will win or lose this election that is—quite literally—a matter of life and death for both candidates.
While everyone is currently concentrating on the winner, I want to focus on what will happen to the person who loses this election.
For Erdoğan and his rival Kılıçdaroğlu, as I’ve said, I believe this election will mean life or death. Whoever loses will suffer severe repercussions. And I think these repercussions will be considerably more severe than most people think.
Erdoğan will be our first stop. Many people think Erdoğan will keep running for office even if he loses this election. There is a slim possibility that this will happen if several other factors work in his favor.
But first allow me to describe what I believe will happen to him if he loses.
The assumption that he can never lose an election will be dispelled, which is the first thing he will lose from his image and magnetism.
A loss would be catastrophic for Erdoğan, especially against Kılıçdarolu, the leader of the main opposition party. Kılıçdarolu is the opponent he had hoped for from the start. The CHP, which had long reigned over Turkey and whose first chairman was Ataturk, is an unending source of rhetoric for Erdoğan.
Erdoğan has consistently fought against the history of this party and has consolidated his popularity by taking advantage of the CHP’s oppressive secular state policies throughout its history. He frequently reminds his supporters that the conservative and pious sectors of society will forfeit all the gains they achieved under his rule if the CHP wins again.
He also wanted Kılıçdaroğlu as a potential rival in the election because Kılıçdarolu is an Alevi, and Erdoğan could effectively polarize society by using this. The third factor is that Kılıçdarolu fit the stereotype Erdoğan likes to depict to society, which is that the CHP and his predecessors were ineffective, untalented individuals who never accomplished anything.
Losing an election to such a candidate is not like losing to any other candidate. The defeat would be devastating. He would be defeated by the least talented, most bureaucratic candidate who also happens to be an Alevi.
Contrary to what some people may think, there are other factors that will preclude Erdoğan from carrying on as a “normal” opposition leader after this indescribable defeat.
Turkey’s entire judicial system has long been subject to intense strain. Investigation into any crime purportedly committed by government officials is not currently possible. Things could take a drastic turn, though, after the elections, when this pressure will have subsided and the judiciary will be emboldened to investigate all corruption claims. Additionally, it is likely that the current media landscape will be drastically altered, and the media will also be investigating any claims of financial crimes that are currently disregarded by both the judiciary and the media.
Therefore: I think Erdogan will lose practically everything if he loses.
And what about him Kılıçdarolu?
He will also lose everything if he loses this election.
His defeat would likely result in the dissolution of his party, the CHP, as well as the
end of his political career. If he is unable to secure victory, people will view him as overly ambitious—someone who prevented other potenial candidates from competing, such as Istanbul and Ankara mayors İmamoğlu and Yavaş, both of whom had a much better prospect of defeating Erdoğan.
Kılıçdaroğlu would be revealed as the mastermind behind the egregious failure and destruction of Turkey’s final vestige of democracy.
From this vantage point, it is obvious that both candidates will fail if they lose. If Erdogan loses, especially by a wide margin, he and his political movement would suffer a fatal blow that will be very challenging to overcome.
If Kılçdaroğlu loses, his leadership will come to an end, and his party will become a battlefield for several factions that had been living together for a long period reasonably quietly. His defeat will also point to a more oppressive administration in Turkey given how much weaker the opposition will be during the new Erdoğan period. In sum, I cannot say who will win this election. But I am confident that whoever loses will be utterly defeated.