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Erdogan’s Democracy… Tension in a Dangerous Direction!

Recep Tayyip Erdogan - Erdoğan of Turkey - رجب طيب اردوغان - تركيا

Opinion polls rule out that Erdogan will win the upcoming elections, which leads him to more tension and hostility towards opposition parties.

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

The Turkish political and media scene is witnessing an exciting debate after some media professionals loyal to Erdogan spoke about the possibility of banning the CHP’s activity, prosecuting its leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and some of the party’s leaders, and placing them in prisons.

This media talk was accompanied by a very violent attack by the Turkish president on the leader of the Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, and his ally in the ‘Nation’s Alliance,’ the leader of the Good Party, Maral Aksanar. Erdogan does not miss any occasion, whether internal or external, without attacking Kılıçdaroğlu and Aksanar, with the most violent words, descriptions, and phrases, including those targeting their dignity and honor.

In all of his speeches, Erdogan accuses Kılıçdaroğlu (Kilitchdar-oglu) and Aksanar of allying with the Peoples’ Democratic Party, the political wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, in an attempt to win the sympathy, solidarity, and support of the popular street, arguing that “Kurdistan Party” is a terrorist organization and the enemy of the Turkish nation and state. This has failed, at least so far, as all independent opinion polls have proven the decline in the popularity of the Justice and Development Party (Erdogan’s AKP) and its ally the National Movement, in return for a noticeable increase in the popularity of the Good Party and the Republican People’s Party and the Democratic People’s Party.

All polls also ruled out a victory for President Erdogan in the upcoming elections and expected his rivals, including Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas, to receive at least 58% of the vote compared to Erdogan’s 40-42%.

Such possibilities push Erdogan to increase tension and hostility towards opposition parties and all opponents, with all their political and social affiliations and alignments, and they are all subjected to a very violent attack by Erdogan and his ally, the leader of the nationalist movement Devlet Bakhchali and the media loyal to them together. The media attack acquires a frenzied character without limits, as long as the judiciary does not move a finger against these, and unlike everyone who utters even one word against Erdogan, the judiciary is prosecuting him for insulting the President of the Republic.

The judiciary is also prosecuting Erdogan’s opponents, including journalists, academics, intellectuals, artists, and others, and without this attack being sufficient for Erdogan and his media to limit the activity of the opposition parties and their forces, which are taking advantage of Erdogan’s failure in the foreign and domestic policies, the most important of them is the serious economic and financial crisis that the opposition leaders expect to bring the country to the brink of complete bankruptcy with the continued depreciation of the Turkish lira by at least 15% in just one month, which was reflected very dangerously on the high prices of all services and basic materials and the cost of living, then unemployment, poverty, and hunger which have become a daily phenomenon.

The opposition expects Erdogan and his government to impose a new series of taxes to cover the budget deficit, which will burden the citizen who will take revenge on Erdogan in the first upcoming elections. Such a possibility prompts Erdogan to seek “hellish” plans, as characterized by the opposition, to ensure that he remains in power, no matter what it costs him. Within these endeavors, Erdogan seeks and will seek to divide the ranks of the nation’s coalition parties, which includes the Republican People’s Party – CHP (28%) and the Good Party (14%), and indirectly the HDP – People’s Democratic Party (10%).

The polls expect Ali Babacan’s Progress and Democracy Party (3%) and Davutoğlu’s Future Party (2%), along with the Democratic and Happiness Party, to agree with the Nation’s Alliance against the Public Alliance, which includes the Justice and Development Party – AKP (30%) and the National Movement (8%), in addition to the Great Unity Party.

The opposition also expects Erdogan to impose strict control over the media and social media networks, while working to change the election law at the last moment, with the possibility of postponing or canceling the elections with security justifications, both internal and external, which is Erdogan’s prerogative according to the constitution. The opposition also talks about the possibility of electoral fraud, as was the case in the April 16, 2017 referendum. On the basis of this referendum, Erdogan changed the political system to become a presidential one, taking control of all state agencies, facilities, and institutions, and becoming the absolute ruler of the country. The leader of the Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, accused the Supreme Electoral Commission, at the time, of falsifying the results by agreeing, after the polls were closed, to adopt the more than two million unsealed ballot papers.

Talking about the possibility of banning the activity of the Republican People’s Party and prosecuting its leaders remains the most dangerous scenario for Turkey’s future, because Ataturk was the one who founded this party that ruled the country alone until the end of World War II. This concern may not be enough to deter Erdogan from thinking in this way, after he put the two co-leaders of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, Selahattin Demirtaş and Vikan Yoksakdag, and a number of party leaders in prison, five years ago, and joined them with about forty of the mayors elected in 2019, which was not enough for the party’s supporters and followers to take to the streets, because they know that the authorities will not spare them, even though 5.86 million voted for the party in the June 2018 elections.

In all cases, and with the exclusion of any possibility of holding early elections in light of the difficult internal and external conditions that the country is going through, everyone knows that Erdogan does not and will not, in any way, accept defeat and hand over power to his enemies. He knows that they will pursue him on many charges, the most important of which is serious corruption and his involvement in foreign files, the most important of which is his relations with armed groups in Syria and Libya.

Washington’s position is not clear, at least until now, on the overall developments inside Turkey, recalling that President Biden had spoken at the end of 2019 “about the need to get rid of Erdogan democratically”, after describing him as “authoritarian.”

The media presents many future scenarios, not only regarding Washington’s possible position, but also the position of Western capitals, and even Moscow, all of which are said to turn a blind eye to Erdogan’s staying in power, whatever his negatives, as long as it benefits directly or indirectly of him. Defenders of this view say that the mentioned capitals are more likely to deal with the absolute ruler Erdogan instead of a new president or a new coalition government with several contradictory parties, and their agreement even on crucial issues will never be easy.

Some see in such a scenario a sufficient reason for Erdogan to continue his current policies internally and externally, as long as the aforementioned capitals content themselves with denunciation and condemnation, without taking any practical action against Ankara.

Everyone knows that Erdogan plans to stay in power, drawing lessons from the experiences of regimes in Arab and Islamic countries, and whether they remain in power or fall from it was in most cases subject to American indication.

This is the case for Adnan Menderes, who made Turkey (1950-1960) an “American state.” The military overthrew him and executed him, while Washington did nothing, which it did with the Shah of Iran, Hosni Mubarak, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and others in other countries in which America has accounts and accounts!

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