By Kemal Kirisci, Kutay Onayli
Turkey’s local elections on Sunday, following a reporting period intensifying volatility in the country’s economy, created shocking upshots. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan–who had formulated the elections as a referendum on his rule–together with his Nationalist Movement Party( MHP) electoral spouse received a whopping 51. 6 percent of the vote. Although the Justice and Development Party( AKP) -MHP coalition prevailed majority decisions of votes overall, it acted inadequately in major municipals. Out of Turkey’s seven largest metropolitan mayorships( Ankara, Adana, Antalya, Bursa, Gaziantep, Istanbul, and Izmir )–five of which had been governed by his AKP and one by MHP–only two now remain in AKP paws, Gaziantep and Bursa. The AKP acquired simply Gaziantep comfortably, while in Bursa–a onetime Ottoman capital and a longtime urban AKP stronghold–the opposition runner-up trailed the AKP candidate by less than 3 percent( compared to a margin of over 20 percentage in the 2014 poll ).
Given these unnerves in Turkey’s primary municipalities, Sunday’s referendums were a pyrrhic victory at best for Erdogan. They showed that elections still matter in Turkey and that the two countries may be on the cusp of substantial political changes.
Ankara, Izmir, Adana, and Antalya
The AKP lost the mayorship of the capital of Ankara, which it impounded since 1994, to the opposition candidate Mansur Yavas. The AKP fielded the successful former mayor of the Anatolian industrial metropolitan of Kayseri, Mehmet Ozhaseki. He lost even if they are the AKP almost completely saw the media coverage and threatened to make life forlorn for Yavas and his administration if they prevailed. Although the AKP has called for a recount, it is difficult to see how such a recount would close the 4-point lead Yavas enjoys.
The AKP’s bid in Izmir–Turkey’s third-largest city and the Aegean stronghold of the main opposition Republican People Party( CHP )– likewise miscarried dramatically. The popular former minister of the economy Nihat Zeybekci lost by a determined 20 moments( in 2014, the AKP candidate lost by 14 items ).
Much more astonishingly, the Mediterranean centers of Adana and Antalya likewise precipitated to the CHP, annoying the AKP’s attempts to tap into the strong nationalist feeling in these provinces through its alignment with the staunchly right-wing MHP. The CHP too won the urban centers of Mersin and Hatay in that field, meaning that Erdogan’s AKP, for the first time since it came to power in 2002, is almost entirely locked out of Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean littoral. Lastly, the AKP lost almost a dozen smaller but significant metropolis in Anatolia to its collaborator MHP municipalities where each party guided with its own candidates.
The contested award: Istanbul
Most importantly, nonetheless, the fate of Turkey’s largest and most significant metropolitan mayorship has all but declined out of the AKP’s handwritings. In Istanbul–which has virtually 15 percentage of Turkey’s 57 million voters and 31 percent of its GDP, and is where Erdogan himself began his political career–two candidates claimed victory. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency hastily stopped reporting the research results after AKP candidate Binali Yildirim claimed victory over CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu with over 1 percent of the ballot left to be counted and a lead only of about 5,000 polls. Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Council also uncharacteristically stopped presenting solutions. Amazingly, Erdogan himself seemed to hint that his party may not have won in Istanbul–although an AKP spokesmen rephrased the party’s say of victory later on Sunday night. Late on Monday, Turkey’s election board confirmed that Imamoglu had won, although the results are considered “unofficial” until the end of appeal procedures season. Yildirim himself acknowledged his opponent’s pas, but has stopped short of officially relinquishing. Instead, in a last-ditch endeavour, the AKP asked for a relate, which will be completed by the end of the week.
Regardless of the final official aftermath, this drawing stands in austere oppose to 2014, when the AKP acquired Istanbul by over half a million elections. In reality, the AKP has passed Istanbul–Turkey’s crown jewel–for a quarter-century. Binali Yildirim, a onetime “ministers “, is one of Erdogan’s closest and most well known lieutenants. Erdogan campaigned energetically on behalf of Yildirim and appeared in all his safarus advertisements, including information that showed the two men’s “love affair with Istanbul.” They held a last-minute revival that more than 1.5 million people attended. This stand in striking contrast with the un-glitzy Ekrem Imamoglu, a district mayor whose refer was virtually uncharted by even a very close spectators of Turkish politics when he declared his candidacy. But his folksy and courteous style, a breath of fresh air in an increasingly aggressive political climate, appear to have charisma enough Istanbulites to overcome AKP’s “love affair” with the city.
More of the same? Or new politics?
The disturbeds to AKP rule across Turkey come at a time when some commentators had argued that Erdogan is “weak” but “invincible.” Both of these attributes are incorporated in his growing authoritarianism and increasingly vigorous and polarizing form of politics that conjure a profound siege attitude: In the lead-up to the election, Erdogan frequently used the outraging video footage from the New Zealand mosque attempts during expedition rallies, depicted the foe as terrorists and turncoats, and blamed Turkey’s fiscal misfortunes on internal and external accomplice seeking to undermine a Turkey otherwise ascendant under his leadership.
Is a brand-new kind of politics developing? Voters apparently did not respond too well to the AKP-MHP campaign message that the “survival and continuity” of the Turkish state quite literally depended on them. The success of Ekrem Imamoglu in Istanbul and Mansur Yavas in Ankara perhaps hint that Turkey’s opposition , notorious for being ineffectual and factionalized, may lastly be attaining some footing.
Imamoglu, a self-described righteous “social democrat, ” lauded for its capability to connect with seculars and religious reactionaries alike, pertained well to the rank and file of both the CHP and its nationalist friend, the Iyi( Good) Party. Much more importantly, during the most critical moments of Sunday’s intense ballot-counting process, he preserved his cool and ploy skillfully to muster his cornerstone and organize a social media campaign to ensure transparency. Similarly, Ankara’s new mayor Mansur Yavas, though not at all balk about his seeds as a former is part of MHP and a nationalist, managed to win only because he retained the full CHP base and realized inroads with disappointed AKP voters. Ironically, the forms of these two surfacing fleshes resemble that of Selahattin Demirtas, who gained much vogue in recent years for his trailblazing insistence that the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party( HDP) accept an agenda conventional of an all-Turkey social democratic party, rather than one with a only Kurdish base.
Since the failure of a ceasefire between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party( PKK) in the summer of 2015, the HDP has been evoked as nothing more than the political offstage of a terrorist organisation. Numerous high-ranking members of the party, including Demirtas, remain in jail; and any( non-demonizing) coverage or even mention of the party in the Turkish press is basically taboo. Perhaps even more importantly, however, Erdogan has enabled us to established the rest of Turkey’s opposition succumb to a new political discourse where the insinuation of even the smaller collaboration or understanding with the HDP constitutes a political blasphemy instantaneously associated with treason and terrorism.
Neither Yavas nor Imamoglu mentioned the HDP during their initial victory speeches–despite the fact that Demirtas had, in a last-minute war cry, promoted his basi to vote for the opposition alignment. Yet both, in an implicit recognition of the importance of HDP voters in ensuring their success, emphasized in their pronunciations the important role played by embracing Turkey’s ethnic, religious, and social diversification as well as greater democracy and the principles of the rule of law.
These changes may well be pointing to a “new politics” in Turkey. While the AKP still commands an impressive 44 percentage of the full amounts of the election, Erdogan, long the most wonderful learner in Turkish politics, intimated vaguely on Sunday night to mistakes make use of his party. He said he will focus on strengthening Turkey’s increasingly tenuous economy–which is widely recognized as having precipitated the AKP’s hassles in the elections.
But before Erdogan can turn to whatever fiscal and structural reforms he may have in mind for an increasingly beleaguered Turkey, he will be preoccupied by attempts to continue to square the circle. His continued domination over Turkish politics will require coping a heavily centralized presidential structure. At the same day, however, he will need to adjust to the fact that the electorate sided govern over Turkey’s political and fiscal assets, Ankara and Istanbul–as well as a multitude of other cities–to the opposition.
In his win speech, Erdogan failed to acknowledge this new reality, espousing instead to detail the AKP’s own successes. This is demonstrated that Erdogan may well double-down on divisive politics instead of recognizing the emerging a number of aspects of a “new politics” displayed by the results of Sunday’s poll. His alternative may prove questionable if he fails to get Turkey out of its recession and if the newly galvanized opposition overcomes its changes, developing a seeing and political program that can win over at least some of the seam AKP-MHP base. More importantly, the research results demonstrate that Erdogan is not indestructible. Hence, Turkey may well be at cusp of a new age in politics and, contrary to Erdogan’s assurances to his basi Sunday evening, this period may be too impatient to wait for another 4.5 years until the forthcoming elections. The Turkish president may have minimise the importance of the borough elections and stressed his own unchallenged predicament at the helm of the Turkish state; but it would be unwise to assume that Sunday’s offending district results of the elections will not profoundly alter national politics in Turkey.
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