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How Did Erdogan Win? #TurkishElections2018

How Did Erdogan Win? <a class="hashtagger" href="">#TurkishElections2018</a>

24 June elections have been a benchmark for Turkey. Turkey will be governed by a new regime.

The old head of the new regime will be Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

This time election hopes were high among the opposition. CHP’s presidential candidate İnce raised hopes and mobilized the opposition voters. However, at the end of the day, it was Erdoğan who was the sole winner of the elections. A year ago, 51 percent voted yes in the referendum for the presidential system; however, as the first president of Turkey in the new system, he was able to win 52 percent of support, with even a higher voter turnout than the referendum.

Some analysts believed that the plummeting Lira and skyrocketing potato and onion prices would prompt voters to punish Erdoğan and AKP. It did not happen. So how did Erdoğan win? As in some of the previous cycles, this time he again vehemently used the good old narrative of “the West being against me because they despise a strong Turkey; and I am the sole leader to fight the West and make Turkey even stronger”. He used this new version of a xenophobic “anti-imperialist” discourse emphasizing the need for a strong leader as himself. This narrative apparently sold well.

Election propaganda videos depicted him as Fatih, the Conqueror of Istanbul, a strong leader defending his nation against the external enemies and their internal allies.

When the US decided to cooperate with Turkey in Manbij, for example, the narrative was centered around the premise that “Erdoğan’s Turkey is so strong even the US had to submit.” When the US or the EU criticized Turkey regarding the backsliding democracy, the narrative from the winning camp was: “The West is afraid of a strong Turkey, this is why they try to get rid of Erdoğan – they are afraid of him.”

Erdoğan’s major promise for this election was a stronger Turkey led by a strong leader. Right after he cast his vote he proclaimed that “the bureaucratic oligarchy is over.” By saying that, he actually implied there will only be one decision maker.

He promised Ottoman style national cafes for young people where they will be able to find some books and drink tea and eat cake for free. This absurd sounding promise seemed to have resonated among some of the youth.

As a result of the election, it is actually an identity that won, and again, an identity that was defeated. New regime will be established on a new Turkish identity: more religious, more conservative, more introverted and paranoid towards the world, more isolated and full of angst against differences. In the new Turkey there will be less room for individual freedoms and basic principles of democracy; less tolerance for differences and different identities.

It is going to be more difficult for Central Bank to resist Erdoğan’s demands, as from now on there is going to be only one center, and its address is the Palace. It is going to be impossible for the judiciary to take decisions with Erdoğan not agreeing.

Turkey will never again be the Turkey as we know it.

About The Author

Nevsin Mengu

Born in Ankara in 1982. Studied Political Science at University of Bilkent. Did her masters on Sociology at University of Galatasaray. Worked at several news outlets like Haberturk and Hurriyet. Mostly covered Middle East as a correspondent. From 2009 to 2010, worked for TRT TURK in Tehran. From 2011 until 2017, anchored CNNTURK 18 o’clock news. Now writing opinion pieces for Birgün newspaper and doing weekly interviews for Deutsche Welle.

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