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The Risk That Erdogan Faces in These Elections #TurkishElections2018

The Risk That Erdogan Faces in These Elections <a class="hashtagger" href="">#TurkishElections2018</a>

Hardly anyone in their right mind and with a sense of objectivity will deny that the parliamentary and presidential elections to be held in just over two weeks will be fair play.

The way the playing field has been arranged by the ruling power and its alliance partners shows clearly that there is a need by the present administration to manipulate the situation in order to guarantee a victory.

Just a cursory look at the airtime all the parties are getting on television networks to promote their manifestoes is also enough to show how the odds are stacked against the coalition, which nevertheless soldiers on despite the obstacles placed in front of it.

The so-called “independent media” is not exempt from culpability either, because it is giving much more coverage to incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) than the opposition.

Media magnates, most under Erdogan’s tutelage now, are clearly eyeing their own material interests rather than being concerned about the fate of Turkey’s democracy.

Erdogan and AKP executives know that they need more than a simple victory in these elections in order to rule freely and without encumbrance, under Turkey’s new presidential system, which will come into force after the elections.

Otherwise, the “latter-day sultanate” that Erdogan is accused by his critics of trying to establish in Turkey is not going to be the smooth ride he needs in order to pursue his ideological ambitions.

Put another was an unimpressive victory in the presidential elections and a slim majority in parliament will not be sufficient for Erdogan to argue that he is the president of the whole nation. This is a by-product of the type of executive presidency Erdogan and the AKP introduced to Turkey.

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If the system they opted for had sufficient democratic checks and balances, the fact that he is elected as the leader of a party with a specific agenda would not matter. The corrective mechanisms of democracy would secure the interests of those that did not vote for him and who do not support his ideological agenda.

This is whey calling these snap elections has turned out to be something of a gamble for Erdogan and the AKP. The risk is that even if Erdogan wins, he may do so with a slim majority and with a weak AKP in parliament.

There is another aspect to this risk that AKP executives may or may not be factoring into their calculations. Should they get less than the result they expected in the elections, or even lose – a possibility that is being openly discussed – the political disaster for them will be even greater.

Their failure will have come about even though they did their level best to arrange the playing field to their own advantage. Meanwhile, their supporters who claim that such a failure is the result of outside manipulations or machinations by the opposition will be in a laughable position.

The importance of the victory for the opposition, on the other hand, will be doubled should it win, because this victory will have been secured against massive odds.

For the first time in over a decade, no one is sure what will come out of these elections, and that includes Erdogan himself. He and his colleagues in the AKP must be having many sleepless nights over the fact that there is a possibility they may lose this time around.

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If that happens they will only have themselves to blame even though they will try and blame everyone else.

About The Author

Semih Idiz

Started journalism career in Economic Press Agency in Ankara, and later worked in the Anatolian News Agency, Cumhuriyet daily, Turkish Daily News, NTV news channel, daily Star, daily Aksam, CNN Turk, and daily Milliyet. Currently writes for Al Monitor and Hurriyet Daily News. He has had articles, commentary and analyses published in the Financial Times, the Times, Mediterranean Quarterly and Foreign Policy. He has also been a frequent contributor to local news channels as well as to BBC World, CNN, VOA, NPR, Radio New Zealand, Deutche Welle, various Israeli media organizations, Al Jazeera etc. as a foreign policy expert.

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