How Turkey's demographics will decide the 2023 elections
All eyes will be on Turkey this weekend, as voters head to the polls on Sunday for the country's presidential and parliamentary elections.
As the stakes run high, attention turns to the major Turkish provinces that constitute electoral weight and are fiercely competed for by the political parties. There are 81 Turkish provinces, and their varying populations reflect their electoral weight in the 600-seat parliament.
Istanbul is not only the largest city in Turkey but also the most populous province with about 16 million people, making up 18.71 percent of the total population of Turkey, according to 2022 statistics. It also holds 98 seats in the 600-seat parliament.
In the 2018 presidential elections, Istanbul was a closely contested and highly significant city in terms of its voting outcomes. It voted in favour of the opposition candidate, Muharrem Ince of the Republican People's Party (CHP).
Ince received the majority of votes in Istanbul, with approximately 54 percent overall, while incumbent Erdogan, representing the Justice and Development Party (AKP), received around 44 percent of the votes.
The results also favoured the main CHP opposition party in the parliamentary elections. It won the majority of seats in Istanbul, securing approximately half of the votes. The AKP came in second place with around 44 percent of the votes, followed by the People's Democratic Party (HDP) with about 5 percent of the votes.
As the capital city of Turkey, Ankara is another major province as far as the election is concerned. With a population of around 5.5 million, it is home to government institutions and political headquarters of the major parties. It holds 36 seats in parliament.
In the 2018 presidential election, the majority of votes in Ankara went to the opposition candidate, Ince of the CHP. Ince received just over half of the votes in Ankara, while Erdogan, representing the AKP, received around 44 percent of the votes.
The results of the parliamentary elections were more varied. The AKP won a majority of seats in Ankara, securing around 46 percent of the votes. The CHP came in second place with approximately 34 percent of the votes, followed by the HDP with around 12 percent, and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) with five percent of the votes.
Izmir is the third-largest city in Turkey and a major province with 28 seats in parliament. It has a population of 4.3 million and plays a crucial role in the country's political dynamics. In the 2018 polls, Izmir demonstrated a strong support base for opposition parties.
In the presidential election, the majority of its voters favoured Ince of the CHP, who secured approximately 65 percent of the votes, while Erdogan received around 30 percent. Similarly, in the parliamentary elections, the opposition CHP party emerged as the clear winner in Izmir, securing 62 percent of the votes. The AKP came in second place with around 27 percent of the votes, and the HDP received around 8 percent of the votes.
Bursa is an important industrial and commercial hub in Turkey. It has a population of more than three million and holds 20 seats in parliament.
In the 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections, the majority of voters supported the ruling AKP and its presidential candidate Erdogan. Bursa has traditionally been a stronghold of the AKP and has given Erdogan a significant support base.
The AKP's emphasis on economic growth and development likely appealed to many voters in Bursa, as the party has implemented various infrastructure projects and initiatives aimed at boosting the local economy.
Located on the Mediterranean coast, Antalya is a popular tourist destination and a significant electoral province. It has a population of 1.3 million and holds 17 seats in parliament. It traditionally leaned towards the opposition CHP.
In the 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections, Antalya's voting patterns reflected a significant shift compared to previous elections, with the AKP securing a victory in both the presidential and parliamentary contests.
In the presidential election, Erdogan received the highest number of votes, which was seen as a surprise outcome, marking a departure from the province's historical support for the CHP.
Erdogan's campaign focused on stability, economic development, and leadership in challenging times. These messages seemed to resonate with a significant portion of Antalya's electorate.
Similarly, in the parliamentary election, the AKP emerged as the leading party, securing a majority of the parliamentary seats allocated to the province. The AKP's focus on economic growth, infrastructure development, and tourism initiatives in Antalya likely played a role in winning over voters.