05 April 2019 14:27

What the local election results in Turkey portend

Looking at the socio-political language of the mathematics of winning and losing, some points are striking.

Photograph: AA

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For sure, it is a “defeat” for the Erdoğan-Bahçeli front, which drew on the state’s power and whatever could be controlled and coordinated by means of it and attempted to disable their opponents with talk of “survival, vileness, malady, traitor, terrorist, enemy of the call to prayer and flag” alongside threats, prohibitions and physical obstruction, however, it is a defeat with “buts!”

Assessment is possible of many aspects and angles of this local election that was imbued with the air of a general election.

To pick up on a few of the most prominent of these here, you would, first, have to assess the results in the large urban centres in which class contradictions stamp their mark more clearly on social life and relations, second, the standing in towns described as being rural-provincial of the ruling party and the MHP, which has entered into a unity of ideological-political reaction with the former with talk of making a “union of fate,” third, the results in the area where the Kurds are concentrated and towns with a heavy Kurdish population, and the fourth which also gives meaning to each of these, the role and place in these results of the working class and urban-rural working people. This clearly calls for a detailed analysis.

Apart from this, I can dwell on a few points that “appear to have attained clarity” in first-hand terms. Namely, looking at the quantitative and percentage breakdown of the results of these local elections, it appears that Erdoğan and his party are in first place (31 provincial municipalities and with a 44.3% share of the vote – a total of 732 provinces, sub-provinces and small municipalities), the CHP follows them with 21 provincial municipalities and 30.1%, the MHP is third with 7.3% of the vote and 11 mayoralties, the Good Party was fourth with 7.45% of the vote (unable to take a provincial mayoralty) and the HDP was placed fifth with 4.24% of the vote and eight provincial mayoralties. The resulting picture is one in which each of these parties could well deem themselves successful. The AKP was the first party and the CHP increased its vote. The MHP got a higher vote than it expected and it has made territorial accretions. The state party and its sidekicks, which they called the “People’s Alliance,” stood at 51.6% nationally and its vote declined slightly as against the previous elections. When its votes in support of the CHP in the three big cities are added, it is notable that the HDP suffered no mentionworthy loss of support despite the entirety of the state power’s attacks, duress and prohibitions, abusive use of trustees and operations to buy off collaborative tribal chiefs.

Looking at the socio-political language of the mathematics of winning and losing, the following points are striking:

i-) The ruling party’s (along with its alliance partners) loss of cities like Adana, Antalya, Aydın and Mersin and not least the country’s three largest cities are indicative of a tendency for the small and medium-sized bourgeoisie, alongside the working masses, to give the cold shoulder to the ruling party that they see as being to blame for the dire straits they are going through for reasons connected to the economic crisis.

ii-) The effect of these three large cities on both the country’s economy and its socio-political life is not purely attributable to the size and composition of their populations, but their status as centres of attraction, their roles in production and consumption and their socio-cultural influences. It is surely for this reason that Erdoğan said he equates the loss of Istanbul with the loss of Turkey.

iii-) The religiously exploitative, nationalist chauvinistic policies employed by the ruling party and its partner, who have lost municipal control of most of the major large cities, continues to hold sway over a significant portion of the masses at large. These elections once more drove home how powerful this influence is in the areas and towns of the country that can be called rural. With AKP propagandists, speaking of having the “keys to heaven” in their pockets and their ability to distribute them in return for votes, attracting no adverse reaction from the rural bourgeoisie and workers including a section of the Kurdish population for the intrigues they were cooking up to milk this religious influence shows that it is political developments in conjunction with socio-political truths that will bring enlightenment.

iv-) The ruling party and its partner’s loss of most of the country’s major urban centres will function in moral and spiritual terms to exert a countrywide influence. The defeat they suffered in these cities in spite of holding full state power in their hands and making unrestricted use of it against all sections of the opposition will play a role in prompting demoralization and potential internal conflict and dispute in the ruling party ranks and a motivating one in terms of refreshing morale and enhancing devotion to the task with greater confidence in revolutionary and socialist circles as well as the opposition’s bourgeois wing.

v-) What has been lost and won is not central state power! The mechanism of oppression remains firmly in place and ruling party spokespersons, not least Erdoğan, have themselves proclaimed that they will use this mechanism against the opposition in all its forms in the harshest manner. The country is being ruled under emergency power laws and Palace headquarters decrees. The need has become even more pressing in the country where the invalidity of politics with a “local authority” discourse has been proved through political practice for the development of resistance by the working class and urban-rural working people to oppression of all kinds and poverty, price increases and high living costs and dismissals and unemployment, and for an improvement of living conditions. The victor in places where municipalities were taken is the bourgeois opposition and the gains here by the working class and working people are indirect.

vi-) The successful campaigns waged in the face of duress and prohibition by the party of the working class which fielded independent candidates in this election has once more demonstrated the importance of the struggle against capital by the proletariat and working masses rising on the back of factory, workplace, neighbourhood and unit campaigning. The revolutionary privates of the class, not least those vanguard workers who are alert to class interests, will devote themselves all the more wholeheartedly to the task with the strength and confidence they gain from these endeavours. The importance of its own independent campaigning by the working class’s revolutionary party has once more become apparent over this election campaign.

(Translated by Tim Drayton)