The End of Erdogan? Forecasting the Turkish Election

Predicting elections is hard. Poll aggregators and prediction markets can help. Many of the usual suspects like FiveThiryEight and PredictIt aren’t covering Sunday’s election in Turkey, partly due to their own issues, and partly because US organizations often ignore foreign elections. But we do have several good predictors to consider, and they all list opposition candidate Kiliçdaroglu as a slight favorite.

Polymarket is most optimistic for the opposition, giving them a 67% chance. British betting site Smarkets gives them a 61% chance. Play-money site Manifold Markets gives them 56%. Finally, no-money prediction site Metaculus gives a 60% chance that the opposition wins, and a 79% chance that Erdogan leaves office if he loses the election. I’m not sure how the count the Swift Centre, a small closed panel of forecasters, but they are the exception in seeing Erdogan as a slight favorite.

My economist’s instinct is to trust the real-money markets more here, although Manifold and Metaculus outperformed them in the 2022 US midterms. The usual bias is to predict a win for the candidate you like more (which for Westerners on these markets means betting against Erdogan), and have real money on the line can help counteract this. On the other hand, some might use betting markets as a hedge and bet on the outcome they don’t want. In this case the betting markets are slightly more favorable to the opposition, but the gap is small.

Of course, the biggest real-money markets are those that don’t ask directly about the election: the markets for Turkish stocks and bonds. These have generally performed well in the past year as the opposition’s chances have risen, which may indicate that markets think a new Prime Minister with more conventional economic views will get inflation under control.