General Elections

14 May 2023


  • Unicameral parliament in unitary parliamentary republic; 600 members elected for 5-year terms.
  • Presidential candidate who receives more than 50% of the votes is elected president. If no candidate receives a majority vote, then a second round of voting is triggered between the two candidates who received the highest number of votes in the first round.
  • Party-list proportional voting system for parliamentary elections with a 7% national threshold —either individually or in alliance with other parties — to enter parliament. The number of seats in the 87 electoral districts are based on population size. Changes in the election law in 2022 resulted in the 10% threshold being lowered to 10%, a threshold that had existed since 1982.
  • Between the 87 electoral districts, a certain number of members are elected to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, proportionate to the population of their electoral district. The total number of MPs increased from 550 to 600 after changes in 2018.
  • President becomes the head of state and of government (no Prime Minister); parliament has power to impeach the President but no direct executive oversight.
  • Incumbent: Known as the People’s Alliance, a coalition of Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and smaller members, the Great Unity Party (BBP) and the New Welfare Party (YRP), led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Justice and Development Party).


  • Political parties
    • Justice and Development Party (AKP): Right-wing; nationalist; socially conservative and Islamist; rhetorically pro-open markets; regionally expansionist foreign policy; while officially committed, skeptical about EU. Led by the current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
    • Nationalist Movement Party (MHP): Right-wing; nationalist; socially conservative and Islamist; rhetorically pro-open markets; regionally expansionist foreign policy; while officially committed, skeptical about EU.
    • Great Unity Party (BBP): split from MHP; far-right; Islamist.
    • New Welfare Party (YRP): far-right; Islamist.
    • Republication People’s Party (CHP): Center-left, social democratic; main opposition force; secular social democracy; pro-EU.
    • Good Party (İYİ): Center-right; moderate nationalism; pro-EU membership.
    • Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA): center-right; pro-EU; pro-religious freedom.
    • Future Party (GP): center-right; pro-parliamentary system; pro-EU membership.
    • Felicity Party (SP): socially conversative; Islamist.
    • Democrat Party (DP): pro-parliamentary system; center-right; pro-EU.
  • Coalitions
    • AKP, MHP, BBP, and YRP joined together as the People’s Alliance, led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (AKP).
    • CHP, İYİ, SP, DEVA, GP, DP have united as the Nation’s Alliance, also known as the Table of Six, and chose Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (CHP) as its candidate.
  • Recent developments
    • Originally, there were four candidates on the presidential ballot: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (AKP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (CHP), Sinan Oğan (Independent) and Muharrem İnce (Homeland). Three days before the election, Muharrem İnce formally withdrew, leaving it to three official candidates. Oğan, the only remaining minor party candidate, cancelled a key rally shortly after İnce’s withdrawal.
    • Polls suggest an extremely close race between the top two candidates, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Impact on U.S. Interests

  • Turkey under Erdoğan has delayed Finland’s accession to NATO and has continued to block Sweden’s membership. Turkey’s relationship with the alliance has been tumultuous since it acquired the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system. Turkey has also conducted military operations against Syrian-Kurdish forces in Syria, despite their collaboration with the U.S. in countering ISIS. If the opposition wins, Turkish-Western relations could be revived, potentially starting with approving Sweden accession into NATO. It may also open the door to greater NATO-EU cooperation.
  • Turkey-Russia Relations. Throughout Erdoğan’s rule, Turkey’s relations with Russia have strengthened. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Erdoğan has positioned himself the mediator between the West and Russia, especially after Turkey played a central role in mediating a grain export deal between Ukraine and Russia in the middle of the war. Turkey condemned Russia’s invasion, but Erdoğan is seen as friendly to Russia, refusing to join the sanctions against the country in addition to regularly speaking with Vladimir Putin. Due to Turkey's weak economy, Turkey will likely remain reliant on Russian energy, tourism, and foreign investments no matter the outcome of the election. However, days before the election, opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu accused Russia of election interference.
  • Future of Turkey’s Relations with the West. Turkey’s relations with the EU and the US have been fragile for years. If an opposition victory occurs, there will be a focus of rebuilding relations and economically revitalizing Turkey.

Key Issues to Watch

  • Promises from the Opposition. The parties that comprise the Nation Alliance joined forces in attempts to bring an end to Erdoğan’s 20 years of rule. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the social democrat Republican People’s Party and the candidate of Nation Alliance, promises many changes significant to the U.S, such as strengthening the rule of law in Turkey and promoting democracy, basic rights, and freedoms, as well as reclaiming Turkey’s place within the West.
  • State of Turkish Economy. Turkey’s economy has been devastated by high inflation and a weakened currency, made worse by the February earthquakes. Kılıçdaroğlu has criticized Erdogan’s unorthodox economic policies, promising to work towards rebuilding confidence with foreign investors.
  • February Earthquake. An estimated 1 million Turkish voters may not vote following the earthquake, according to the Turkey’s Supreme Election Council chief. Among the most affected provinces were Erdogan's strongholds.
  • Turkey-EU relations. Accession talks between Turkey and the European Union have stalled since 2016 due to concerns over Turkey’s human rights violations and weakened rule of law. Additionally, the European Parliament voted to suspend accession talks in 2019, further deteriorating relations. Kılıçdaroğlu and the Nation’s Alliance have voiced its commitments to rebuild trust with the intentions of continuing negotiations if the opposition were to win.
  • Post-election turmoil. Analysts say that even if Erdogan loses, he may resist handing over power. Even if he wins the presidential election, his party’s control of parliament could slip due to the unity of the opposition.


Remote Visualization

Data source: Politico