Jul 19 2018

Turkish opposition voters feel betrayed and troubled by uncertain future

Turkish opposition voters feel betrayed by the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce on the election night on June 24, and the traditional infighting within opposition parties which restarted after the elections has left Turkish voters profoundly troubled by an uncertain future, the New Statesman said on Wednesday. 

CHP candidate Muharrem İnce reassured his voters that he would do everything possible to prevent election fraud on June 24. However, he disappeared on the night of election and conceded defeat via a WhatsApp message to a journalist.

“To those who regarded Ince as their best hope of change, his actions felt like a betrayal. Opposition parties have since reverted to their traditional infighting, leaving Turkish voters profoundly troubled by an uncertain future. For many the outcome is clear: Erdogan’s next term will be a continuation of his last – only worse,” the New Statesman said. 

While, following the elections, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has begun ruling Turkey with unprecedented power and few constitutional constraints, investigate journalist Çiğdem Toker told the New Statesman that the opposition Republican People’s Party was failing to mobilise voters to act as a counterbalance to Erdogan’s presidency. “The problem is structural and chronic,” she said.

Given the ineffectiveness of the opposition, observers regard the Turkish economy as the only true check left on Erdogan’s rule, the New Statesman noted.  “As much was proved this month when the president’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, was appointed finance minister, and international investors responded by pushing the Turkish lira to record lows,” it added. 

Journalist Amberin Zaman, who writes for the Turkish online newspaper Diken from Washington, DC and has not visited Turkey since her press card was cancelled last year on the grounds that she was “a threat to national security”, told the New Statesman that the space for critical discourse was shrinking, making it even harder for opposition leaders to reach voters. 

“What can people do other than resign themselves to these circumstances?” Zaman said. “The hope of change through democratic means is becoming an increasingly remote one and that, of course, is extremely worrying.”