14 May 2019 15:27

Is the AKP-MHP alliance likely to win the re-election by stoking up the tension?

The police interventions against mass reactions indicate that preventing the masses from expressing their reactions in the street will constitute one prong of the 23 June election.

Photograph: Kayhan Özer/DHA

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Up until a few days before the annulment of the election, commentators from all circles who had been watching developments in politics had not expected a ruling of this nature from the Supreme Election Council (SEC).

This being based on the thinking that such a ruling would further strengthen the “aggrieved party” Ekrem İmamoğlu and the AKP could not take this risk.

Four days before the SEC’s ruling, on 2 May 2019, Erdoğan gave the SEC a serious message in saying, “Some friends think that if the elections are repeated that AK Party will poll worse, but I don’t agree. Many people within the party didn’t want a re-election at the time of the 7 June 2015 election. I believe one hundred per cent that we’ll win the election if the election in İstanbul is repeated today.”

WHAT HAPPENED FROM 7 JUNE TO 1 NOVEMBER?

Erdoğan says he changed the 7 June result on 1 November, but does not speak of how he did so. In fact, he increased the AKP vote from 41.6% to 49.8% in six months in the five and a half months from 7 June to 1 November 2015. Of course, a swing of this magnitude could not happen in five and a half months under normal conditions, nor was this so!

The AKP regime squeezed the following into the 7 June-1 November period:

IS’s Suruç and Ankara Station massacres,

TAK’s terror attacks in Ankara and İstanbul,

Ending the period of non-conflict in which not a single person lost their life for two and a half to three years,

Limiting Kurdish political forces’ activities in the legal sphere by spreading military and police operations throughout the country,

Threatening the people of the region with talk of “white Toros” cars re-entering the streets if they didn’t vote for them and taking the people’s will hostage by terrorizing the entire opposition.

THE AIM OF COWING THE STREET AND INDIVIDUALS

Erdoğan’s reminder of the 7 June-1 November election amounts to an open proclamation that 23 June will not just be contested between two candidates under ordinary conditions.

The harsh reality is that the attempted lynching of Kılıçdaroğlu in Çubuk and, never mind Erdoğan and Bahçeli’s failure to send their condolences to Kılıçdaroğlu, their declaring the assailants heroes, shows that the AKP-MHP alliance will use all means to turn the election result to their favour.

In fact, the police interventions against mass reactions indicate that preventing the masses from expressing their reactions in the street will constitute one prong of the 23 June election.

The serious injuries sustained three days ago by Yeniçağ newspaper columnist Yavuz Selim Demirağ at the hands of six or seven people (taken in conjunction with the attempted lynching of Kılıçdaroğlu) shows there will be no compunction about bringing “contra” or “paramilitary” forces onstage, not just law enforcement forces. Moreover, the releasing of Demirağ’s assailants despite their saying in their police statements, “We don’t know that person. They told us to beat him up and we did so” bears testament to the blatant nature of the desire to cow those on the opposition as well as the masses coming into the street.

OPPORTUNITY WILL NEVER KNOCK AGAIN!

So, can Erdoğan and his party reverse the 31 March election results in the way they changed the 7 June election results?

This isn’t easy, because the people are not the people in 2015. Events subsequent to 7 June 2015 have come as an important lesson to Turkey’s people!

Just now, the people are not even the people of 31 March. Post-31 March events have led to an examination of consciences, not just among opposition voters, but among AKP and MHP voters to the extent that Bahçeli and Erdoğan now face the stiff problem of persuading their own body of voters to vote for them again.

Hence, the calculation, “We’ll intensify the political tension and terrorize the people like we did after 7 June and win the election” may turn out to be more of a miscalculation. Such a situation is described popularly as “opportunity doesn’t always knock twice.” And, where a dynamic area like politics is involved, it is quite something for opportunity to ever knock again, let alone sometimes!

After all, AKP rule is now a rule that is on the downward spiral and is bereft of “electoral bribes” or any other type of weapon apart from oppression.

However, the people, thanks the lesson they have drawn from their experiences, will defend their own will against endeavours to win this election by force. Just as the people will not abandon using the street, they have grasped the truth that the best response to paramilitary attacks is mass struggle.

The Bahçeli-Erdoğan alliance faces a stiff task!

Bringing militants from rural areas into İstanbul and setting out to place barricades before İstanbul’s will offers no easy palliative to the “difficulties,” either. On the contrary, this is far more likely to lead to further adverse reaction in their own bases.

THE AKP-MHP ALLIANCE WANTS TO CONTEST THE ELECTION BY TERRORIZING THE STREET

The following is a rundown of police assaults against working people who have come out onto the streets in the past few days alone:

*Police intervention against health workers protesting the 3600 supplementary scale in Ankara: Public Health and Social Services Employees Trade Union Co-Chair İbrahim Kara and Revolutionary Health Workers' Union member Furkan Bircan beaten up and arrested

*Police attack on the “Honour March” at Middle East Technical University: 22 arrests

*Intervention against mothers of hunger striking detainees: many arrests of mothers by police having intervened using tear gas and pressurized water against would-be protests in Diyarbakır, İstanbul Bakırköy, Ankara and Adana by mothers of detainees on hunger strike for the ending of Öcalan’s solitary confinement

*Assault on trade unions and professional chambers reacting to the SEC: police intervention in Ankara against a group outraged at the unlawful annulment of the İstanbul Metropolitan Mayor election consisting of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions Ankara Regional Representation, Confederation of Public Employees' Trade Unions’ Ankara Branches Platform, Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey Ankara Provincial Coordination Board, Turkish Medical Association’s Ankara Medical Chamber and Ankara Self-Employed Accountants and Certified Public Accountants’ Chamber that wished to protest the rerunning of the election for İstanbul Metropolitan Mayor

The police wish to terrorize the street prior to the election most certainly comes as a clear indicator of the kind of political atmosphere in which the election will be held. 

(Translated by Tim Drayton)