Our correspondent in Turkey, Tayfun Hatipoğlu, reports on the recent General Election.
THE VICTORY OF THE RULING AK PARTY in Turkey’s parliamentary elections on 1 November must be understood in the context of earlier elections on 7 June which removed the AK Party’s majority in Parliament. This shocked the ruling party and panic set in as they saw the possibility of their removal from power.
In ‘normal’ parliamentary democracies, governing parties often go into opposition. In Turkey, the Islamic AK Party is aiming to transform the country permanently in its own likeness. Like an octopus, it has been spreading its tentacles into every aspect of economic, social and political life and slowly suffocating all opposition. It has built up a huge membership of five million members for whom it provides a variety of economic and social benefits paid for out of massive corruption. The government is reputed to levy an illegal 20% tax on all significant government contracts. This is then funneled partly into ministers’ own personal bank accounts, and partly into party-controlled religious foundations who distribute it to sections of the population to ensure their political support.
All this is coming from a party which put cleaning up corruption at the very centre of its appeal and whose very name – AK means white – was designed to symbolise a party with clean hands which would bring government corruption to an end! Fear of exposure and retribution for this corruption explains the desperation of the government to stay in power at all costs. With all the opposition parties committed to putting the President and AK Party ministers on trial, loss of government office would not only lead to the imprisonment of the AK Party elite but to the dissolution of the party itself.
To win the rerun election President’s Erdogans’ circle decided on a brutal and cynical nationalist strategy, to capture the votes of the right wing nationalist MHP, while at the same time smearing the left wing Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) with the ‘terrorist’ label. Evidence indicates that it was President Erdogan’s intelligence agency that arranged for Isis members to carry out the bombing of a pro-HDP press conference of young socialists in Suruç on 20 July, killing 33 and injuring over a hundred. This was followed three days later by the killing of two policemen in the east of Turkey which the government eagerly blamed on the Kurdish military organisation, PKK, but is more likely to have been the action of government agent provocateurs. This was used as the pretext for launching – the very next day – a long planned military operation against the Kurds, by air in northern Iraq and on land across the east of Turkey.
Then in early September hundreds of HDP offices across Turkey were attacked by organised crowds and burned in a co-ordinated action, with police looking on and refusing to intervene. Then in October came the bombing in Ankara of a peace rally of mainly pro-HDP supporters, killing over a 100 with another 400 injured.
Clearly, the various bombings at pro-HDP rallies and the burning of their offices around the country were aimed at provoking the HDP’s supporters into major clashes with the police, leading to the arrest of leading figures. This would have allowed the pro-government media to paint the party even more as a terrorist movement and stop them reaching over the 10% barrier, giving the AK Party the two thirds majority it needed to introduce their all-powerful presidential system. Fortunately, the HDP leadership were well aware of this and strenuously held back its supporters from walking into the government’s trap. Sadly, the same could not be said for the PKK whose big military reaction to the attacks on it played straight into the governments hands, helping it succeed in its phoney war and in winning the elections.
The 1 November election result has only strengthened the confidence of the President and his party. Emboldened by the success of their murderous strategy, the AK Party leaders are bent on vengeance against all who oppose them, seeing the election result as a green light to go further in its mission to take over all aspects of society.
Fear and gloom has descended on intellectuals and creative people, some of whom have already started to leave the country. People feel that through his actions this year Erdogan has carried out a civilian coup and will systematically create a personal dictatorship in the coming years. Turkey may continue to hold elections, but if all critical voices are silenced then such elections will no longer offer any opportunity to change things or to hold the government to account.
» For more information, see turkish-elections-nationalism-and-terror-take-country-closer-to-dictatorship