I am concerned: Erdoğan and elections

İhsan Yılmaz
İhsan Yılmaz


Date posted: January 29, 2014

İHSAN YILMAZ

I have never experienced so much concern as I have since Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdoğan started doing everything in his power to polarize society.

During the Gezi protests, his deputy Bülent Arınç admitted that the country’s mood was extremely tense. Now, the tension is rising still further. Only a year ago, it would be impossible to imagine the Turkey of today. Politicians have now been targeted by gunmen. A Nationalism Movement Party (MHP) adviser was killed a few days ago. The mayor of Ankara, Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Melih Gökçek declared that he might be assassinated. The offices of İstanbul’s mayoral candidate Mustafa Sarıgül came under rifle fire. Erdoğan has referred to Hizmet volunteers as assassins.

These developments are disturbing. It does not take an oracle to guess that when the elections get even closer, the country will move further towards insanity if Erdoğan does not change his stance on a number of issues and cease his ferocious rhetorical tactic of designating every critic a traitor. Hrant Dink was assassinated as a result of such a campaign of hate. The youngsters in Trabzon who wore shrouds and shouted “Tell us to die and we will die for you” were greeted with a warm smile by Erdoğan only a month ago.

If that had happened now, Erdoğan would probably appoint their leading figure as his chief advisor! Don’t laugh. During the Gezi protests, a columnist called Yiğit Bulut claimed that “shadowy international forces” were behind the protests, going so far as to claim that Lufthansa Airlines was one of them, apparently because Lufthansa is jealous of Turkish Airlines. He even declared that these “shadowy international forces” were trying to kill Erdoğan by telekinesis — and a few days later, he was appointed as Erdoğan’s chief economic advisor. This is telling enough, and makes me very concerned. Erdoğan gives the impression that he is ready to bend the law in order to prevent people from asking questions about allegations of corruption.

People around him have been talking for some time about the Supreme Election Board (YSK), a judicial body. A few days ago, AK Party Deputy Chairman Mustafa Şentop, a constitutional law professor, mentioned the elections and alleged that some judges were talking about canceling them. It would not be wise to dismiss these remarks out of hand. Is Erdoğan planning to confront the YSK? I can find no solid evidence for this, yet as an economist friend of mine reminded us on Twitter today, even if the corruption allegations are true, Erdoğan would still do everything to stay in power. My friend said that it is agonizing to admit, but for the first time, he feels that international observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other similar institutions must be invited to observe the elections.

It is almost beyond doubt that some Islamic law professors have created a parallel legal system in Turkey by legitimating immoral and corrupt practices through the abuse and manipulation of Islamic law. These very same professors could probably give Erdoğan a fatwa approving the manipulation of the elections. I know that these are serious accusations and recognize that there is not a single shred of evidence that Erdoğan has any such intentions, but nevertheless, Turkey should not be blind to the fact that he has deliberately transformed the forthcoming local elections into a sort of referendum to secure popular approval of all his actions. If Erdoğan receives more than 40 percent of the vote, believe me, he will try to be even more authoritarian.

At the moment, only the economy and the elections can stop him. Even with the economy, I am not very optimistic. The Ergenekon generals did not care about an economic collapse as long as they remained in power. As for Erdoğan, with every passing day he is transforming into a similarly determined figure. An economic crisis may be an acceptable price for him to pay to remain in power because if he is forced from office and the allegations turn out to be true, he may have to face the courts.

Source: Todays Zaman , January 29, 2014


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