Jul 01 2018

Turkish media continues attack on opposition after elections- Turkey media roundup

Following Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday that brought President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) crushing victory, Monday morning’s headlines among Turkey’s large pro-government press contingent were predictably triumphant.

The high circulation daily Hürriyet’s headline, “the ‘people’ have the majority,” was a typical example of this, using for “people” the Turkish word “cumhur” which the AKP and its partners the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) used for their electoral “People’s Alliance.”

While Star, Sabah, Vatan and Ortadoğu’s variations on this theme reflected the alliance’s electoral success, with the AKP’s 295 and the MHP’s 49 seats bringing the pair a combined simple majority of 344 out of 600 seats in parliament.

Other pro-government newspapers focused on Erdoğan’s over-52 percent tally in the presidential election, which as Posta put it, meant the incumbent won without a need for a widely-anticipated run-off vote.

Secularist newspaper Cumhuriyet’s Monday headline called the elections “controversial,” referring to the state of emergency that the vote was held under and the vastly diminished amount of media coverage allowed to opposition parties compared to the ruling party.

BirGün, another secularist newspaper, said they were “unjust elections,” citing the declarations of victory by Erdoğan and the AKP while the Supreme Electoral Council was still in the process of counting the votes.

Aydınlık, a newspaper with close ties to the left-wing nationalist Patriotic Party and its leader and presidential candidate Doğu Perinçek, lamented the success of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which passed the then percent electoral threshold to gain a place in parliament with over 11 percent of the vote.

The headline piece attributed this success to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s support of the party, and said that most voters had been put off by this support for a pro-Kurdish party and had chosen the AKP and MHP alliance over the CHP as a result.

The elections were still the main theme on Tuesday, with the Islamist pro-Erdoğan daily Yeni Şafak’s headline discussing the president’s plans for his “first hundred days” as the country’s leader under the new presidential system, which has increased the presidency’s powers and done away with the position of prime minister.

Erdoğan will use this initial period to choose a 16-person cabinet and pass “harmonisation regulations” by executive decree aiming to swiftly implement the new system, according to Yeni Şafak.

Both BirGün and Cumhuriyet’s front pages dealt with what they described as the AKP’s reliance on its alliance partners the MHP, which they said had become the “key party” with the power to “govern the country’s governors.”

The AKP fell six seats short of a majority, meaning they will need at least some votes from the MHP to pass laws in parliament, but only if nearly all deputies are present at the time of the vote. On other important parliamentary matters, the AKP either has enough votes alone to pass laws or not enough even with the MHP’s full support.

Pro-government press on Wednesday had a field day mocking CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who broke days of silence on Tuesday to make a speech during which he accepted no responsibility for his party’s poor 22 percent results in the parliamentary election, criticised the CHP presidential candidate Muharrem İnce, who received over 30 percent, and made the counter-intuitive analysis that the true losers of the elections had been the AKP.

The man who Akşam newspaper called “spaceman Kemal” had, as Yeni Şafak pronounced “lost his composure” after receiving a “thrashing” in the elections. Star newspaper, meanwhile, turned the opposition party’s popular hashtags from the electoral campaign against it, saying it was “enough” of Kılıçdaroğlu’s style and time for a “change.” Türkiye newspaper meanwhile speculated that a leadership struggle may be in effect between Kılıçdaroğlu and İnce.

This was a theme taken up by Cumhuriyet, a newspaper with historic links to the CHP, which referred to party rebels who desired a switch to İnce’s leadership, whose performance in the Jun. 24 elections they say has outshone around eight years of Kılıçdaroğlu’s leadership.

The killing of Mevlüt Bengi, a ballot box observer for the AKP whose body was found in the eastern Turkish province of Ağrı strung up on an electricity pole and shot in the head, was the headline story for both the pro-government Star and leftist-nationalist Aydınlık newspapers on Thursday.

The newspapers reported that Bengi had been killed by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an outlawed organisation that began an armed struggle in Turkey for Kudish self-rule since 1984. A note was found on his body saying he had been killed “for being an agent of the state since 2015.”

Star and Aydınlık pinned the blame for his death on the CHP, due to its support for the HDP during the electoral campaign. Nationalist and pro-government circles in Turkey accuse the HDP of being the political wing of the PKK.

On Friday, pro-government newspaper Takvim had fun at the expense of the German national football team, the 2014 world cup champions who crashed out of this year’s tournament after losing 2-0 to South Korea on Wednesday.

German fans had been highly critical of two of the national team’s stars, İlkay Gündoğan and Mesut Özil, the Turkish-origin players at clubs in the English Premier League who appeared in a photo-op with President Erdoğan during his state visit to the United Kingdom in May.

The fallout from that incident, in which Gündoğan addressed Erdoğan as “my president” in a message written on his Manchester City shirt, is rumoured to have severely affected Germany’s dressing room harmony the World Cup, and has been posited as a reason for the team’s disappointing performances.

Takvim’s front page accused the Germans of “lynching” Gündoğan and Özil, and ran with pictures superimposing Erdoğan’s face onto the two South Korean players who scored against Germany to knock the team out.

Cumhuriyet’s Friday headline called the Turkish interior minister Süleyman Soylu a “provocateur,” after the minister spent the first week after elections targeting opposition parties.

Soylu reportedly told HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan in a phone call she had “no right to live” in Turkey after the Bengi killing, which Soylu implied the HDP was directly responsible.

The same week, Soylu made a move barring the main opposition CHP’s politicians from attending the official ceremonies at funerals of soldiers killed in the line of duty.

The interior minister also removed all security from Temel Karamollaoğlu, the chairman of the Islamist Felicity Party, which joined the CHP and nationalist Good Party in the opposition Nation Alliance in the elections.