Deciphering Election Results in One Headline #TurkishElections2018
The more naïve observer would ponder why should the Turks be so much in love with ideologies based on religious and ethnic nationalism.
There are probably thousands of different reasons to explain Turkish love affair with Turkishness, including a lack of self-confidence, the loss of an empire, defeat against non-Turkish, non-Muslim major powers and a century-long failure to make any sign of success, from income to sports. All that may have been a good recipe that has created a collective inferiority complex in an otherwise proud nation, the same recipe that worked in different times and in different countries. Turks may have gone to the extremes, though.
There has hardly been a day when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not remind his nation how big and powerful his nation is. In return for the flattery he won applause and votes. The transaction is still in progress. Only few Turks questions why they should be reminded of their greatness everyday. Does Bill Gates tell everyone, everyday that he is a rich man? Does he need to? Why would someone tell everyone he is big and rich and powerful?
But it sells in Turkey. The nation, with its splendid 6.5 years of average schooling, an imperial past, a longing for that imperial past, and a collective feeling of Turkish-Sunni supremacy, has a big enough appetite to buy more.
As evinced by headlines… One such headline, in Hürriyet, Turkey’s biggest daily, read: “Turks put their mark on the World Cup Final game!” One would be captured by the headline, knowing that, let alone the final game, the Turks were not even in the championship. Curious to know how the Turks might have put their mark on the final game, one clicks on the news. Curious… Curious… Where is the Turkish mark on the final game? Did a Turkish-origin player in the French or Croatian teams score? Was the referee Turkish? Was the trophy physically made in Turkey? Was it the Turks who made the biggest number of viewers in the French-Croatian game? How else could the Turks have put their mark on the final game? Not a clue … until you read that there was a Turkish fan in the audience who had waved the flag of Ankaragücü, a newcomer to the Turkish Super League. One man, one team flag … and that’s how the Turks put their mark on the final game.
The story reminded this author of a script on the walls of a tavern on a Greek island. In Turkish, it read: The Turks are everywhere! A proud Turks must have thought it was a good reason to be physically on a Greek island. We are a big, proud nation. We can travel as far as the Greek islands that are less than an hour’s ferry ride from Anatolia. Fantastic!
We lost an empire. Our national team did not qualify for Russia 2018. But we put our mark on the final game.