Is it game over for Turkish president Erdogan?

Greed for power, lust of money and addiction to authority have doomed his political image.

 |  3-minute read |   28-10-2015
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A second parliamentary election in less than five months in Turkey is due on November 1. What the country has been subjected to in the past few years will go down in history as one of the ugliest and harshest experiences it has ever had. The economy is in shambles, both internal and external security is extremely fragile, inflation is at highest levels, businessmen and women have lost entrepreneurial freedom, schools, coaching centres, universities and all other educational institutions have been politically subjugated, information sharing has been severely restricted, religion has been shamelessly abused and politicised and, above all, social polarisation has reached a dangerous level - possibly even risking a civil war.

Unfortunately, all these are now facts of a country which was just until three years ago was celebrated as the "Model State" in the turbulent Middle East. Neither the country has seen a natural disaster on a catastrophic scale nor has it been invaded by a savage medieval army to alter its fortune to this extent in such a short period. The government which had earned such an honour to the country and its people is still at the helm of affairs, but it has now led the country to a point where instead of being called a "Model State" in the Middle East it is being referred to as "just another middle eastern state". This government has not only deprived the country of any goodwill it had enjoyed in the international arena but has in fact taken it to new lows in the region.

Greed for power, lust of money and addiction to authority of long time Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his inner circle have doomed their political image as progressive-democratic politicians to intolerant-authoritarian leaders.

Erdogan's rhetoric, particularly since the 2013 Gezi Park protests, has deeply polarised the Turkish society. During those protests, instead of trying to pacify the unhappy demonstrators and heeding to some of their legitimate demands, Erdogan peevishly said he was struggling to keep at home the 50 per cent of the Turkish voters who vote for him. This remark was highly incendiary and unbecoming of a democratic leader. With no sign of improvement, his political narrative has in fact gone from bad to worse since then.

However, his polarising politics has reaped him enough fruits now. It has finally reached the saturation point. The last parliamentary election, which was held on June 7, showed that in the polarised society that Erdogan himself has created, the anti-AKP camp has more weight than the pro-AKP. The AKP does not anymore enjoy the support of 50 per cent Turkish voters, which Erdogan boastfully referred to during the Gezi Park protests.

In the June 7 general election, Erdogan's AKP won 41 per cent of seats in the parliament and, therefore, was unable to form a single-party government. All the coalition talks with other political parties failed and the country is facing yet another expensive election.

In the run-up to this election too, President Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have sustained their polarising rhetoric and policies. They have done everything in their power to ensure that the country is divided and votes in their favour are consolidated. But what they are failing to understand is that it is not in any way turning out in their favour. So many different communities from different walks of life have been annoyed and persecuted by this government and this president that regardless of their ideological differences they are now coming under one umbrella to oppose this authoritarian style of governance.

AKP's chance of gaining 50 per cent of votes and thus being able to form a single-party government is highly unlikely, to say the least. In the present scenario, only rigging the election can give them what they want, which many in the country fear they would resort to. But rigging an election does not give legitimacy to a government and hiding it is just not possible.

Writer

Mohammad Behzad Fatmi Mohammad Behzad Fatmi @behzadfatmi

Political writer and commentator. He writes widely in the Indian and international media, mainly on Turkish politics.

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