Yavuz Baydar writes: Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, passed a very critical test on Sunday with a sweeping victory in the municipal elections, which were really about the country’s political direction and existential choice.
If the results were seen as sort of a dress rehearsal for next year’s general elections, the Justice and Development party (AKP), which has ruled the country for 12 years, proves once more that it still lacks a formidable foe, and feels even more encouraged to enhance its power.
But this election went beyond a party test; it was about whether or not Erdogan’s constantly toughening administrative policies, his moves to erode the separation of powers and curb basic freedoms, and his fierce battle for survival has mass approval.
It does. More than 45% of the voters said yes, higher than most predictions. Erdogan constructed his survival strategy with a simple calculation: would the middle class and those below, to which his party presented a prosperity no other predecessor managed, give up what they see as economic gains? Would they choose to abandon stability by shifting to two other parties who were not at all convincing?
The AKP segment showed loyalty and sent a clear message: it does not care as much about freedom, internet bans, de facto suspension of the rule of law, defiance of the corruption investigations, intolerance to all dissent, and violence against those who want to exercise their right to demonstrate. Voters shrugged en masse and collectively signalled that the journey ahead for this fully fledged democracy was doomed to pass over a dense minefield. The result also displayed the resistance of patriarchalism and the approval for nepotism and cronyism. [Continue reading…]