Turkey’s 2023 Elections: The Day After

May 8, 2023 Topic: Turkey Region: Middle East Tags: TurkeyRecep Tayyip ErdoganTurkish Elections

Turkey’s 2023 Elections: The Day After

Turkey is a critical country, and the competing alliances and leaders promise distinct solutions and approaches to awaiting challenges.


Not everything will change in foreign policy; Turkey’s center-left has its nationalistic attitudes. Kilicdaroglu, once in power, will continue to pay lip service to traditional issues that have been the hallmark of Turkish foreign policy, such as Cyprus and the Aegean, absent Erdogan’s combative style. It is worth noting that since the earthquake, the Turkish Air Force has stopped overflying Greek islands for fear of antagonizing Western donors.

Kilicdaroglu will push to restore relations with the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, especially if this would occasion some Syrian refugees' return. The recent “rapprochement” between Saudi Arabia and Iran and the apparent efforts at reintegrating Assad by Gulf countries may result in an attempt to end the Syrian stalemate. With Assad still firmly in power, Riyadh and Tehran could agree to enshrine the status quo, provided the regime makes some concessions. Given its support for the Syrian opposition and its military presence in northern Syria, Turkey’s participation would help ensure this agreement’s success.


Washington and Ankara are more likely to come to an agreement on the presence of U.S. forces stationed in northern Syria that partner with local Kurds in fighting the Islamic State, or ISIS. This had been a significant source of tension between the two countries.

Finally, Europe and the United States want to see Turkey reverse the path to authoritarianism under Erdogan. To this end, it is also in their interest to be as accommodating of a new government as possible.

Henri J Barkey is the Cohen professor of international relations at Lehigh University and an adjunct senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council of Foreign Relations.

Image: Shutterstock.