The hopes of the opposition that the scandals of recent months would weaken the party remain unfulfilled
In 81 provinces of Turkey on 30. March the regional elections took place. Although the elections were primarily for mayor and city councillors, it was clear long beforehand that this was a directional election of national importance, also in view of the upcoming presidential elections in August. The main question was whether Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would emerge from the elections stronger or weaker. Despite the Gezi protests and the corruption scandal, observers amed a stable result for the ruling AKP in the run-up to the elections – and were right.
On Sunday morning, there were already signs of an above-average turnout, and now there is talk of a historically unprecedented turnout of over 90%. In many places, there were long lines in front of the polling stations, and some citizens had to wait several hours before they could cast their votes, which is why some polling stations remained open for an hour longer in the evening.
At the same time, reports of manipulation piled up in the social media. There were bags of manipulated ballots, in Istanbul ballots appeared in several polling stations, which had already been stamped for the AKP. In several places Wahler held this in writing and love the present ones sign, in order to prove the mutmablichen manipulations. Already with the last elections there had been again and again comparable reports. Election workers also reported that they had been put under prere. Online observers reported from polling stations throughout the country, giving the impression of massive attempts at manipulation in favor of the AKP. In many places, election observers were expelled from the building and in some cases not allowed back in to cast their votes.
But even without manipulation, the AKP was allowed to emerge from the election as the strongest party. The first projections showed that she received the most votes in more than half of the 81 provinces, in some cases by a wide margin. It was also clear that the CHP would remain firmly in the saddle in Izmir, as would the BDP in Diyarbakir.
Even though many had certainly hoped after the events of the past few months that the AKP would lose significantly, no one really believed it would. More important was the question of how things would turn out in the country’s largest and politically most important cities – Istanbul and Ankara. In the late evening, the AKP is just ahead of the CHP, but there were also pictures like this one from Beyoglu/Istanbul, where AKP supporters actively obstructed the vote count. If the final result, which is not expected for another day or two, is also in favor of the AKP, renewed protests over election manipulation are to be expected.
The essential question is how it can happen that a party like the AKP sits firmly in the saddle despite all the scandals. Since December, the AKP government has been embroiled in a corruption scandal involving billions of dollars. Whistleblowers suspected to be from Erdogan’s rival Fethullah Gulen’s circle had released numerous recordings of conversations between Erdogan and his inner circle via YouTube, proving the involvement of the highest levels of government in the scandal.
After last summer and fall’s mass protests, Edogan was already reeling anyway. Just days before the local elections, another tape emerged of Auben Minister Davutoglu, MIT chief Hakan Fidan, Army General Yasar Guler and State Secretary Feridun Sinirlioglu planning a false flag operation to drag Turkey into a war with Syria. Among other things, it was considered to let Turkish agents fire missiles at Turkey from Syrian soil. Erdogan had threatened several times in the weeks before that a Syrian attack would necessitate a harsh response. Especially explosive: Currently, NATO has deployed Patriot positions on the Syrian border to protect Turkey. The Bundeswehr is also involved in the mission with several hundred soldiers.
After the plans of the Turkish government became known, there was a hail of criticism from the Bundestag – especially SPD politicians demand that the process be reviewed and the stationing of German soldiers on the ground reconsidered (German politicians disagree on consequences of false flag leak). After the tape was published, YouTube was also blocked (Turkey also blocks Tor and YouTube). At present, both sides in Turkey can only be reached in a roundabout way. The media were muzzled on the same day, but only a few resisted and still reported on the YouTube case and the Syria conspiracy.
At least in part, the manipulation of public opinion seems to be working. In his campaign appearances, Erdogan repeatedly emphasized his (undoubted) achievements for the country. The standard of living of many people has risen significantly in the last decade, and many associate this directly with the AKP and the person of Erdogan. Through massive intervention in the media, he has also succeeded in painting a consistently positive picture of himself in the public eye.
The bigger problem, however, is that many of his supporters seem to have as little regard for democratic values such as freedom of expression as the prime minister himself. His censorship measures, Internet blocking, interventions in the police and judiciary, which led to a far-reaching abolition of the separation of powers, all this they consider to be correct. Anyone who exposes criminal machinations of the government is not someone who wants to help the country, but at best a nest defiler who must be fought – even with violence.
Erdogan had targeted at least as strong a result for the AKP as in the last local elections (38.5%). This was now even surpassed. He will be confirmed in his uncompromising course and will continue it. It is to be feared that its policies will become further radicalized after this election. For many years it seemed that Turkey was well on the way to becoming a democratic constitutional state. Now it is moving with rough steps in the opposite direction.