- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threaten with a double disgrace.
- Erdogan strives for unlikely allies.
- Erdogan has targeted almost all democratic institutions in recent years.
After cancellation of the Istanbul election, citizens vote a second time Sunday. Polls see opposition leader Ekrem Imamoglu in front. Does President Recep Erdoğan face a double disgrace?
However, before this new election in Istanbul, everyone is strangely silent about the Turkish president. On the campaign posters only Binali Yildirim, the leading candidate of the governing party AKP for Istanbul, can be seen. Erdogan has reduced his performances. Only in the past few days he interfered again in the debate.
Erdogan’s confidants say demo research have warned the president that his long-term presence in the media has contributed to the defeat in the regular Istanbul election on March 31. His opponents suspect that Erdogan is already preparing for a defeat. He would shift the responsibility to his vassal Yildirim.
Never before has a Turkish government canceled a vote simply because it did not like the outcome. Erdogan said the Turkish government’s politicians expected to win new elections.
At the March election, Ekrem Imamoglu, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) leading candidate won by 13,000 votes. Unexpected by Erdogan, Yildirim has been unable to reverse this trend in the second election. Imamoglu has expanded his lead over the past few weeks. Even internal polls by the AKP now see him at least four percentage points ahead of Yildirim.
Erdogan strives for unlikely allies
The AKP was not only financially superior to the competition for a long time – but also logistically and strategically. The defeat in March has put APK in a state of panic.
Erdogan’s poll numbers dived for a long time, only to go above Imamoglu in recent days. Yildirim stages himself as a statesman, which is counteracted daily by insults from Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu. The AKP is attempting to defame Imamoglu as “crypto-Greek.”
The desperation in the presidential palace in Ankara is now apparently so great that Erdogan is trying to find a new ally – the Kurds.
Erdogan has arrested thousands of pro-Kurdish politicians as terrorists, and his military has been at war in the majority of Kurdish cities in southeastern Turkey. Yildirim suddenly used the word Kurdistan in the election campaign, which had previously led to arrests of other politicians in Turkey.
The state news agency Anadolu, a propaganda tool of the government, was not too happy to publish this week a statement of the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, in which he called the Kurds to neutrality. The pro-Kurdish party HDP said it would support Imamoglu on Sunday – as it did in the March election.
For a long time, the Turkish opposition was divided, fragmented, demoralized by a series of defeats. Imamoglu has revived it. Unlike many of his predecessors, he is able to appeal to broad segments of the population. Despite the cancellation of his electoral victory and the AKP’s attacks, he has remained stoically stuck to his message of reconciliation. His slogan “her ey cook güzel olacak” (everything will be alright) has long since become a trend on the Internet.
Imamoglu’s popularity shows how many people in Turkey yearn for balance after years of polarization and aggression by the government. It is also an expression of the strength of Turkish democracy.
Erdogan has targeted almost all democratic institutions in recent years. He eroded the judiciary and brought the media in line. Nevertheless, an overwhelming majority of Turks still believe that a democratic change of power is possible in their country. The turnout in March was 83 percent.
If Erdogan does not succeed in turning the mood in the Istanbul population, then on Sunday evening he has two bad options:
He may again refuse to recognize the election by manipulating the outcome, or he could replace Imamoglu as he has done in several cities in the southeast of the country. Both could quickly lead to protests and chaos.
Or he could recognize the result which would not only massively strengthen the opposition but also lead to a split in the AKP.