Even if Erdoğan loses the May elections, is he certain to step down? Politico poses the crucial question. Analysts warn that “if the Turkish president feels defeated, no one should expect him to go quietly.”
In any fair election process, the Turk President Recep Tayyip Erdogan It would certainly be heading towards electoral defeat. But let’s be honest, the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections in May will not follow the Queensberry Rules (the generally accepted code of rules in the sport of boxing) and should not be treated as such.
At first glance, Erdogan appears to be dealing with them The most difficult elections in his last 20 years in power, Especially if the opposition bloc comes together and wages coherent and unified campaigns, building on strengths and focusing relentlessly on the ultimate goal of ousting Erdogan. Recent polls show that the Turkish opposition candidate, Mr Kemal Kilicdaroglu Which is not even the most charismatic of politicians, leading the incumbent by more than 10 percentage points, with the election in a few weeks.
Deadly earthquake effects
According to polls, the six-party Nation Alliance appears poised to win a majority of seats over Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party and its far-right partner, the Nationalist Movement (MHP). It is also difficult to see how Erdogan can bridge the gap while southern Turkey frets over the government’s inadequate response to last month’s massive earthquake.
The fatal disaster So far nearly 48,000 deaths It prompted angry complaints that the tragedy was exacerbated by poor urban planning and faulty enforcement of building codes, all combined with sloppy crisis management planning.
When a massive earthquake rocked the Izmit region near Istanbul in 1999, The then Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, Embarrassed by the scale of the disaster, he was widely condemned for failing to mobilize quickly enough. About 18,000 people died in that disaster, and the outcry helped pave the way for a landslide victory for the AKP in the upcoming elections. The opposition is now hoping that last month’s earthquake will be enough to end Erdogan’s rule in the same way.
Erdoğan’s ‘strange’ economic model
In addition to, Erdogan’s economic administration She was curious. Thanks to his bizarre monetary policy of cutting interest rates amid soaring inflation, Turkey has been rocked by soaring inflation, reaching a 24-year high last fall when it reached 85 percent, though it is now down to 55 percent.
In the face of economic “headwinds” and Erdogan’s unique thinking, The Turkish currency has lost 60% of its value against the dollar since early 2021. It recorded a current account deficit and a trade deficit that widened to 38%. Cost-of-living pressures are driving the middle class out of the lifestyles they once knew and plunging the poor into deeper despair. So how, in this context, can Erdogan win?
First and foremost, the Turkish president has enormous advantages as a leader of the establishment and especially Scary and ruthless. Erdogan consolidated his power in Turkey. During his two decades in power, he reshaped the country with the help of creeping Islamization while weakening the parliamentary system, turning it into a presidential equivalent of one-man rule.
the Modern “Sultan” of Turkey He has “purged” the courts, law enforcement, civil services, intelligence services, armed forces, and media and filled them with his loyalists. The Turkish president also greatly exploited the failed military coup attempt to accelerate the formation of the “Erdogan regime”.
upon arrival in Istanbul Ataturk Airport After the 2016 coup, he vowed revenge against the conspirators. “They will pay a heavy price for this,” he said. “This rebellion is a gift from God to us.” Erdoğan never hesitated to withdraw the levers of power at his disposal, and those who have watched him for years have no doubt that he will withdraw them again, like the malevolent Wizard of Oz.
Sinan Sindi, assistant professor of national security studies and author of the book, warned that “American and European leaders should not let their hopes cloud their vision.”Kemalism in Turkish Politics.
The system he created will give him victory
In a paper for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Sidi said that Erdogan “He can win without rigging the vote.” Poll rigging or miscalculation may not be necessary, the system he created may give him the victory he needs. The media will be at the forefront of the Erdogan regime’s efforts to achieve victory.
Erdogan’s control of the Turkish media is terrifying. A Reuters investigation concluded that “the largest media brands are controlled by companies and people close to Erdogan and his party, after a series of acquisitions that began in 2008.” Strict hierarchical editorial control is coordinated directly from the top, with former academic Vashtrettin Altun, head of the Government Communications Department, Supervises instructions sent to press offices.
For example, when Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak resigned as finance minister in 2020 in an unprecedented rift in the Turkish leader’s inner circle, news agencies in the country were told not to report the resignation. Until the government gives the green light.
Thus the opposition remained with a few independent Turkish media such as Medyascope and Halk TV. But as they focus more on the opposition bloc’s internal politics, if infighting breaks out between the parties – as they did with Kilicdaroglu’s selection as a joint candidate – they are likely to become embroiled in the infighting, deviating from the grand goal.
The role of the media
Can social media help break Erdogan’s media grip? Turks migrate to online news sources which the government cannot control,” the Center for American Progress noted in a 2020 study. However, while social media has provided an alternative to the pro-government voices that dominate television and print media, it is also a mixed bag of facts, half-truths, and Inciting misinformationnote the study authors.
Of course, the government has also done a lot to control and censor social media, with parliament passing more restrictive legislation in October. “With the controversial new social media law, the Turkish authorities now have the right to monitor and, if necessary, Restricting freedom of expression on the Internet In ways unimaginable in any democracy – or even in Turkey a few years ago,” the Brookings Institution reports.
Moreover, when verifications fail, there is always the risk of imprisonment on weak and vague charges of defaming or insulting the president or government officials, which have already led to 43 journalists being imprisoned alongside opposition politicians.
And if the unthinkable happens and the regime fails to secure Erdogan’s victory on election night, how can it afford to lose? Opposition politicians have already made it clear that if they win they will put pressure on him to face corruption charges and abuse of power with members of his family, not to mention his inner circle.
“If Erdogan feels defeated, no one expects him to leave quietly.”Cindy says. If defeat appears imminent, pro-Erdogan judges and election officials may overturn the results, as they tried to do by annulling the results of the 2019 Istanbul municipal elections.
Or it may even depend on the police and armed forces. In fact, he may not resign from power after he loses the election. As the month of May approaches, the Turkish opposition and Turkey’s Western allies They have many reasons for concern.
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