Countdown to Elections #TurkishElections2018
For the first time in Turkish political history, presidential and parliamentary elections are going to be held jointly this Sunday, and whatever the outcome, it will be a turning point in Turkish politics.
The mood on the street is “anything can happen”.
With less than a week left until the elections, political parties are playing their last cards. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has conducted his and his party’s Istanbul rally. It was a rainy Sunday which was, also, Father’s Day. AKP claims there were one and a half million people in Yenikapı Square, where the rally was held. Some analysts claim there were fewer people than previous years. One of the highlights of the rally was ex prime minister Tansu Çiller. She said she was joining this rally because she saw this as a national struggle. She also said, “first security, then freedoms” and of course added her support for fight against terrorism.
Çiller is not a popular figure at all. Her term is remembered with the devaluation of the Turkish Lira and the financial crisis which followed it. But her term is also reminisced for another thing: harsh measures against the PKK and the Kurdish problem. Her term was full of unsolved murders of Kurdish political activists. So, her appearing at an AKP rally, in that sense, is symbolic. Çiller at the rally symbolized the Almighty “Turkish State.” Çiller being there and outlining her support for AKP, symbolized her being supportive of the status quo and AKP’s toughening stance against democratic rights and demands. Her presence meant: “the state above all; first the state; then liberal rights if there is room”
It is not only Çiller that hails from the past and supports the “new AKP”; the son of Çiller’s Interior Minister Mehmet Ağar’ is also a candidate for parliament from AKP.
Openly religious Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar, visiting former President Abdullah Gül, under orders from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and talking him into not being a Presidential candidate is another indicator.
CHP used to be considered as the “party of the state” in the past if we classically analyze Turkish politics. However, AKP seems to have replaced them. This, of course, tells us more about the new state of the Turkish Republic. The new Turkey does not consist of Kemalists and social democrat leaning statist seculars; but rather Turkish Islamists.