Jul 02 2018

Era of fair elections in Turkey over – Stratfor analyst

After Recep Tayyip Erdoğan secured re-election as president under extremely dubious circumstances in the Jun. 24 elections, democrat elections are likely a thing of the past in Turkey, according to Sinan Ciddi, a Georgetown University academic and contributor to the Stratfor intelligence platform.

Erdoğan declared himself the victor in the presidential elections based on “unofficial results” before the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) had announced the results, referring to data announced by the state-run Anadolu Agency, the only media outlet reporting the vote count as it happened.

Shortly afterwards, the YSK head appeared on television to state that Erdoğan had won outright, although the votes were still being counted and despite reports that two thirds remained.

“Nevertheless, the main opposition candidate, Muharrem Ince, conceded and left Erdogan to deliver his victory speech to supporters in Ankara — thus concluding the greatest fait accompli in Turkish political history,” said Ciddi.

Erdoğan’s victory makes him the first head of state leading the country under the new “hyper-presidential system,” which affords him broad ranging powers “with little or no oversight.”

“Under the new order, moreover, elections will probably become an acclamatory process. Opposition parties, candidates and, to a lesser extent, media outlets (such as the daily Cumhuriyet and Halk TV) will persevere, but the era when Turkey held elections whose outcomes were not predetermined is likely past,” said Ciddi.

“The state and government are gradually merging into a single entity. In such a setting, loyalists have overtaken — and will continue to dominate — bodies, like the YSK, that were designed to function independently,” he added.

Having consolidated his power base in the highly contentious elections, Erdoğan will likely double down on his anti-Western rhetoric and proceed with controversial policies including the purchase of S-400 defence systems from Russia.

According to Ciddi, these policies will be partly influenced by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s allies in the June elections, and likely partners in a parliament where the AKP’s number of deputies is just shy of the 301 needed for a simple majority.