Jun 07 2018

“Turkey is going into the most unjust election in its history” – academic

Turkey’s June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections are set to be the most unjust in history due to government control of the media and the imprisonment of a prominent opposition candidate, said Karabekir Akkoyunlu, an international relations scholar who recently moved from a research project at Oxford to São Paulo University.

With the purchase of the biggest opposition-backing television and newspaper company by a supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in March, the government now has the backing of around 90 percent of the traditional media.

Erdoğan is looking to extend his 15 years in power and consolidate his position with extensive new executive presidential powers that will come into force after the polls.

He faces an array of opponents in the presidential race, including the jailed pro-Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtaş, who hope to force a run-off and then unite against the president.

“In this dark atmosphere, Turkey is preparing for what is maybe the most unjust election in its history,” Akkoyunlu told the Iraqi Kurdish news channel Rudaw.

“This is a shameful election carried out while one of the candidates is benefitting from all the opportunities of the state and media, and another is campaigning while jailed in prison,” he said.

Kurdish voters, Akkoyunlu said, would be key to the election because if the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the main pro-Kurdish party, fails to gain the 10 percent or more of the national vote it needs to enter parliament, many of the seats in the mainly Kurdish southeast would likely go to Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“The HDP overcoming the electoral threshold has critical importance for the opposition from the perspective of control of parliament,” he said, as would Kurdish votes for whoever is left standing against Erdoğan in a possible second round presidential election run-off.

He predicted the AKP, which is not used to losing elections, may attempt what he called “extremely creative” means to protect its power.