Maintaining heightened political tension is the most important weapon of the Erdoğan-Bahçeli alliance
The bringing to prominence of both Cumhuriyet and the “Gezi trial” on the eve of the elections is most certainly no coincidence and it would be no mistake to view it.
Photograph: Kayhan Özer/DHA
Under normal conditions, even in Turkey, the political climate would soften as elections approached. Events such as protests, meetings and rallies, which normally encountered various difficulties, did not encounter them at election times and the administration would adopt a more tolerant line towards disapproval-expressing actions of this kind. Indeed, certain circles even harboured expectations of a “pardon” prior to elections!
However, in recent years the AKP-MHP alliance, it having dawned on them that they cannot take the country to the “single party single man regime” under ordinary conditions, has made heightening political tension in the country the chief policy. So, in election periods we witness a special stoking up of tension and all actions that are not to the ruling entity’s liking being met with very harsh accusations such as “insurrection,” “treason,” “cooperation with terrorism” and “espionage.”
ARE THE GEZİ AND CUMHURİYET TRIALS A COINCIDENCE?
As the election draws near, the tension in the political environment and the suppression of “opposition” circles increase. Even commonplace reactions or partial opposition to the ruling entity accelerate police violence and the taking of decisions based on ideological rather than legal grounds by prosecutors and courts.
Indeed, with the election so close, the local court’s decision was upheld by the Regional Appeal Court resulting in the rejailing of those released journalists in the Cumhuriyet newspaper trial who had been sentenced to less than five years (the Court of Cassation will rule on those sentenced to more than five years).
Also, the day before yesterday, an indictment was drafted seeking aggravated life imprisonment for Osman Kavala, who has been in detention for a period of more than a year without even knowing what he was charged with, along with fifteen people including actors and journalists like M. Ali Alabora and Can Dündar. Moreover, an incredible claim that “they aided the Gezi resistance” lies at the heart of the accusations against Kavala and the journalists, arts world people and human rights advocates included in the case. Because “the Gezi resistance was an insurrection against the government!” This is the conclusion that prosecutors, looking into the eyes of the political rulership, have reached six years after Gezi!
And, the bringing to prominence of both Cumhuriyet and the “Gezi trial” on the eve of the elections is most certainly no coincidence and it would be no mistake to view it as betokening the desire for them to be made instrumental in heightening political tension “one further notch.”
WILL THE AKP AND MHP VOTE REMAIN SOLID?
We saw in the 24 June elections and we also clearly see in the process unfolding before us just now in the local elections to be held in 37 days that Erdoğan retains no concerns about winning the votes of the segments of the population that have not previously voted for his policies. On the contrary, his basic effort since the 16 April referendum (we can also say since the 7 June election) has been to maintain his “hairbreadth” difference that is also shored up by the tainted monkey business in the referendum! If he can hang on to this difference, he thinks this will secure him enough votes to make do with, with the added use of media and state resources and with the “threats” and “impositions” he will make.
Erdoğan clearly proclaimed where he had set the bar in the local election with words amounting to, “Let’s consolidate the AKP and MHP vote and this is good enough for us” in a speech he made the day before yesterday.
However, it is also beyond doubt that when the dead ends into which they have dragged the country in domestic and foreign policy are combined with the ever deepening economic crisis into which the AKP government’s economic policies of seventeen years have dragged the country, these developments have given rise to dissatisfaction of a magnitude previously non-existent among the working people who voted AKP on 24 June.
Despite the covering up of the truth with the ruling entity’s massive media power and the resemblance the “Nation Alliance” is taking to the “People’s Alliance” and its efforts to compete over antidemocratic and graft-based municipal practices, it is a fact that “consolidating” the AKP and MHP’s 24 June vote will be pretty tough.
POLITICAL TENSION IS AN EXISTENTIAL MATTER OF FOR THEM
Here, of course, the question may come to mind of, “Well, will the political environment return to ‘normal’ after the election?” There are claims among both media and politics folk that everything will return to its “normal” course following the election. But, if this is not a claim aimed at skewing the people’s consciousness, it betrays extreme naivety. For, the most important weapon in the hands of the “People’s Alliance” serving the aim of the “single party single man regime” is to maintain heightened political tension and intimidate its opponents using all the state and media resources at its disposal.
And this means that the ruling entity will be more partisan in its use of oppression and police, judicial and domestic and foreign military operations to quell opposition responses. Moreover, such an environment of political tension has become an existential requirement for them.
Approached from this angle, the only thing that will slow them down – even if they don’t take a step back – and make things easier after the election for the forces opposed to the “single man regime” will be the “People’s Alliance” emerging from the local election dazed from the slap they have received from the people.
Consequently, in the local election, while on the one hand certainly stressing the slogan, “No vote for the People’s Alliance,” it is vital over and beyond this for there to be a gearing of the post-election period towards organizing the labour struggle to fight to reject the burden of the crisis, and election campaigning towards renewing the democracy and freedom struggle in opposition to the “single party single man regime.”