Something’s rotten in Anatolia. While some Western journalists are describing as “a surprise landslide victory” the decisive win by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Sunday’s election parliamentary election in Turkey, nothing in Turkey today happens by chance. Institutions are so thoroughly corrupted that anyone who considers the results to accurately represent the will of Turks is foolish.
According to Hürriyet:
The AKP secured around 49.4 percent of the vote, giving it 315 seats in the 550-member parliament, according to results with almost all ballots counted. For a constitutional change at parliament in favor of the presidential system in line with Erdoğan’s aspirations, the AKP needed to win 367 seats, though 330 seats would be enough to take the issue to a referendum.
That’s quite a comeback from June’s polls when the AKP lost its majority and failed to form a coalition, all the more so given the Turkey’s shaky economy and plummeting. This time, Erdoğan took no chances. The predominantly Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) maintained its position above the 10 percent threshold but lost some ground. Not surprising given how Erdoğan both used security forces to quarantine towns for days on end, arrest Kurds on spurious charges, and precipitate what could become a full blown civil war as he continues to target Kurds less for security reasons than for his own political gain. The fact that his regime had security stand down despite credible police evidence that Islamist terrorists were planning to attack Kurdish rallies was simply the icing on the cake.
Turkish political analysts attribute Erdoğan’s cheating quotient at around five percent — that takes into account stuffed ballots, shenanigans on the state-run Turkish Air as it transports ballots from abroad, disappeared ballot boxes from opposition-run towns and districts, and pretty much everything involving the Mayor of Ankara. In the case of Sunday’s elections, it appears that Erdoğan’s AKP won the votes of hundreds of thousands of dead people. That makes Chicago look amateur.
So what now? Some Turkish liberals and Kemalists might take solace in the fact that the AKP did not win enough votes to simply implement a new constitution, but that will be immaterial as they will likely be able to piece together enough votes for a referendum which Erdoğan can skew with the same combination of security force intimidation and outright cheating.
It’s time to conclude that the Republic of Turkey as Atatürk envisioned is dead and gone. Some in Washington will accommodate themselves from Turkey’s downturn. There are profits to be made: Turkey is to the Atlantic Council, for example, what Qatar is to Brookings. For Turks, however, they have a stark choice: Accept that Erdoğan will succeed both in his goals “to raise a religious generation” and to transform Turkey into not a one-party but rather a one-man dictatorship, or to fight in the streets and in the mountains. There is no good option, either for Turks or for the region.