Saturday, June 6, 2015

Turkey, Pickled in a Narrow Bottle

Turkey, Pickled in a Narrow Bottle. 


"Peace at home and peace abroad ", Kemal Ataturk.


"In Turkey no PM can keep his reign for more than a decade "Adnan Menderes (prime minister from 1950 to 1960), who was hanged in 1961 by the junta after the first coup d'état.


Erdogan was tried for utterances "Minarets are our bayonets, domes are our helmets, mosques are our barracks, believers are our soldiers," convicted and jailed for 4 months. He had also said "Thank God, I am for Shariah," "For us, democracy is a means to an end." and, "One cannot be a secularist and a Muslim at the same time."


No matter the outcome, the elections seem to spell an uncertain future for Turkey for an unfore seeable period.


The author ,who has kept a watch on secular republican Turkey since 1967 ,has been dismayed with the political processes and evolution of Turkey towards a dictatorial Islamist model ever since last elections in 2011 and specially since Erdogan became the president .He spent 10years in Turkey (1969-73,1992-1997 ), travelled from coast to coast, along its borders except with Iran and found Turks , honest , upright , proud , warm and hospitable . 


I had misgiving even in Nov 2002 when ,AKP led by Erdogan gate crashed on the political arena with 2/3rd majority with 34% votes only .Erdogan was debarred from that election .The electoral system with 10% threshold was introduced in post 1980 coup to bring in stability.


Internally Erdogan has painted himself in a corner going after followers of soft Islamic leader and ally Fatheullah Gulen residing in USA, many founders of AKP itself , once powerful military ,humiliated and insulted ,whose hundreds of senior officers were jailed ,judiciary and secular forces .Media has been suppressed perhaps  now in the worst state than anywhere .Few are rooting for Erdogan, not even corporate, US led Western media. Pin drop expectations  !


Externally Ankara has bad to worse relations with almost all in the neighbourhood and even beyond .Turkey is behind ISIS in league with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and US led West . Saudi and Gulf Green money ie Yesil Surmaye has supported Erdogan .Ankara has given almost full support to ISIS.


Below is a very good description by a veteran  Turkish journalist , of the possible electoral outcome and serious possible ramifications, affecting internal peace and external relations.


K.Gajendra Singh 6 June 2015, Delhi



Will the elections bring the end of the 'Erdogan era'?

Around 60 million people are eligible to vote in Turkey, and between 85 to 90% of them are predicted to vote on June 7. Approximately 50 million people will be deciding not only their own country's destiny but also, to a certain extent, the future of the Middle East where Turkey has an important role to play because of its unique geopolitics.


 The rising fortunes of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party may mean the beginning of the end of the "Erdogan era."


Author Cengiz ÇandarPosted June 5, 2015


No matter the outcome, the elections seem to spell an uncertain future for Turkey for an unforeseeable period.


There are two main alternatives for the Turkish electorate to decide, and each has a number of subtexts in itself:


Either larger-than-life Erdogan will receive a green light to achieve his quest for an increasingly autocratic rule through his enhanced status, or:


The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will lose its grip on power, unable to form a single-party government as it has managed to since 2002. Thus, it will be the beginning of the end of Erdogan's ambitions and ultimately his political demise.


The first alternative seemingly will preserve the status quo for the power holders, but it does not mean a recipe for Turkey's stability. On the contrary, it would push the country to implosion under the increasingly intolerable harsh rule of Erdogan and his party and within the broader context in the already volatile region where violence grips more and more of Syria and Iraq.


Many international media outlets and Turkey experts largely see the elections as a referendum for Erdogan and the ruling party because of the aforementioned reasons. A victory for the president will set Turkey on the path of instability with potentially dangerous outcomes. 


The second alternative is a shortcut for a political crisis — the duration of which and how it would unfold cannot be predicted: The ruling AKP may be unable to secure a simple majority in the parliament. In other words, it will earn less than 276 seats out of 550. This scenario was highly unlikely until a few weeks ago. 

Most of the latest opinion polls, which could not be publicized over the last 10 days due to the ban on media coverage, suggest that the second alternative is more feasible. KONDA, believed to be one of the most accurate and credible polling companies despite its blunder in the last presidential elections, presented its latest findings to its customers privately. The following is its final forecast with an error margin of 2.4 points: The ruling AKP's share of the vote is 41%; the main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) is 27.8%; the Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) is 14.8%; and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) is 12.6%.


According to KONDA's CEO, the ruling party may earn 270 to 278 seats with such an outcome. This means the AKP — aka Erdogan — may secure a thin majority over the required 276 seats, but they won't be able to rule Turkey as they wish. The distribution of 1 million votes cast by Turkish expats will also help to decide the ultimate result.



A&G, another opinion poll company with a relatively good reputation, also leaked its findings on June 4. The company conducted its last survey on June 2-3 in 42 provinces with these results: AKP 42%, CHP 27%, MHP 16%, and HDP 12%.


The trends are best understood thanks to the non-Turkish James in Turkey's study. It published "a rolling average of the last five polls published by known Turkish pollsters," weighing the result with the previous five polling results. In their words, this helps to "give an idea of the trend in support while protecting the average against extreme outlier results."


According to the study, the AKP's average share of the vote was 46.2%; while HDP's was 8.5% on Jan. 15, these figures respectively became 44.2% and 9.9% on April 17; 42.6% and 10.2% on May 1; and 40.9% and 10.8% on May 29. Finally, by June 5, just 48 hours prior to the elections, the AKP's share of the vote seems to be 41.1% and HDP's is 11.2%.


All of the figures indicate that the pro-Kurdish HDP succeeded in attracting the Turkish left, religiously conservative Kurds who had voted for the AKP in the 2002, 2007 and 2011 elections, and disaffected liberals who had voted for the AKP or the CHP in the past.


This has been partly thanks to the attraction of its young and articulate leader, Selahattin Demirtas. There is almost a consensus that the party will manage to achieve "mission impossible" by getting over the immensely undemocratic 10% national threshold.


Such a success is proportional with the AKP losing its simple majority. Hence, the HDP's getting over the 10% threshold would mean at least the beginning of the end of the Erdogan era.

The HDP's estimated election success can only be prevented by major electoral fraud or rigging, and this is not totally out of the question.


Otherwise, any fair election is likely to conclude with the ruling AKP losing its simple majority. That would pave the way for various coalition scenarios. The likeliest is the AKP-MHP coalition government. But this possible coalition may not be able to last long in the face of a looming economic crisis.

Another scenario is that if no government can be formed within 45 days after the elections, then constitutionally the country has to hold new elections. This could give Erdogan the opportunity to campaign for stability, and the electorate is likely to heed his advice. But this could even be more costly for him and his ambitions. Once the erosion of his power starts, nobody can forecast where and how it would stop.


International financial circles seem to already have accepted the election results, and they predict no positive outcome. The Wall Street Journal's article titled "Investors Lose Appetite for Turkey Before Polls" reads, "Foreign investors are looking ahead to Turkey's parliamentary elections on Sunday with concern, fearing any outcome that could destabilize the economy." The article also quotes a portfolio manager as follows: "If the AKP wins an absolute majority, then we might consider liquidating our position in Turkey completely."


For many citizens of Turkey, notwithstanding the uncertainties the elections may lead to, the most important outcome would be to see whether the beginning of the end of the Erdogan era will commence. For those citizens, nothing is more important than that, and nothing will be more comforting for the future of the country.

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