Jun 26 2018

Election results a stride towards fascism in Turkey – Brookings scholar

The true victor in the Jun. 24 presidential and parliamentary elections was a form of “angry Turkish nationalism” with the potential to slide into nationalist fascism, Brookings Institution senior fellow Ömer Taşpınar said in an article published by the Washington Post.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held on to power with a first-round victory in the presidential elections, while his Justice and Development Party (AKP) retained control of parliament with 42 percent of the vote – but only thanks to its alliance with the “virulently anti-Kurdish, chauvinistic” Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

“These election results show that polarization along ethnic lines has clearly become a defining feature of Turkish politics,” wrote Taşpınar.

“Under this hyper-centralized new presidential system, Erdogan now has all the levers of political power at his disposal: absolute control over the legislative body, the judiciary and, of course, the executive office. Power has not been so centralized and personalized in the hands of one man since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the republic in 1923,” he continued.

However, due to the conditions the troubling conditions under which the elections were held, including an ongoing state of emergency that made freedom of expression and assembly impossible, one thing Erdoğan’s victory did not grant him is legitimacy in the eyes of the opposition, said Taşpınar.

With only a semblance of democratic legitimacy, and the “Turkish model that was supposed to prove the compatibility between Islam, democracy and secularism “ no longer relevant, the true story of the elections has been the rise of authoritarian Turkish nationalism, according to Taşpınar.

“Today, Turkey is deeply polarized along ethnic lines. Erdogan’s victory came not thanks to his Islamic message but thanks his coalition with Turkish nationalists. The real victor of these elections is not Erdogan but an angry Turkish nationalism with all its anti-American, anti-Kurdish and anti-Europe characteristics. What we are witnessing in Erdogan’s Turkey is not an Islamic revolution. It is an alarmingly big step toward nationalist fascism.”