Our “ally” in Turkey continues to blaze a trail toward a future for his country that looks less and less democratic by the day. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s PK party didn’t fare all that well in the country’s recent round of parliamentary elections. They didn’t lose power, but there was definitely a shift in the electorate and opposition parties fared better than in previous years. One place where Erdogan’s candidates did especially poorly was in the major city of Istanbul. Erdogan’s party’s candidate for mayor was defeated there by Ekrem Imamoglu of the CHP party. That apparently didn’t sit well with the President, so he’s decided to take an unusual course of action. He’s having the election run again. (Reuters)
Turkey’s main opposition party said on Tuesday its candidate for Istanbul mayor would again contest and win the post, after the election board ordered a re-run of the city election in a ruling that has spooked investors and drawn European criticism.
President Tayyip Erdogan had pushed hard for the re-run after his ruling AK Party (AKP) lost control of Turkey’s biggest city in the March 31 poll and he welcomed the High Election Board’s (YSK) decision. But one opposition leader compared it to a “civilian coup” and Germany urged Ankara to respect democracy.
Highlighting the risks of a re-run for Erdogan and the AKP, several smaller opposition parties who fielded their own candidates in the March poll signaled that this time round they could back the ousted mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), a potentially significant move given the tight margin of his original victory.
It seems pretty clear what’s going on here. Erdogan’s claims of “corruption” in the election process are just another way of saying that he doesn’t like the outcome. And by golly, he’ll keep having that election until he gets a result that suits him. It’s a heck of a way to run a government.
This has angered the voters in Istanbul and they’ve been taking to the streets in protest for days. The chairman of the opposition party addressed the crowds, declaring in a sarcastic fashion that it was “illegal to win against the AK Party“. But the AKP might not have such an easy time of it in the rerun. There were several third-party candidates in the mayor’s race who soaked up some of the votes. This time they are all saying they will drop out and toss their support to the CHP. Erdogan’s people may have to seriously cook the books to make it look like they won next time.
This is only the latest in a long series of disappointing developments in Turkey since Erdogan fully consolidated his power. Not that long ago, Turkey was one of the most promising examples of a country working toward freedom and democracy in that region. Their economy was competitive and thriving and the citizens enjoyed more freedom than they had in the past. But ever since the Tyrant of Turkey rewrote the constitution and placed almost unchallenged power in his own office they’ve been going downhill. And if Erdogan is just going to start voiding elections where he doesn’t like the results, there isn’t much of a light on the horizon for them.