For the past five years, modern-day Turkey’s long-standing commitment to the founding principles of secularism and equality as outlined by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk has been steadily and earnestly eroded. That process of fusing Turkish politics with an Islamist approach has resulted in the democratic freedoms in the nation of almost 80 million being gradually rolled back, with power becoming more and more concentrated in Ankara.
Now, as the results of the re-run of the mayoral election in Istanbul have shown, it seems as if Turks are beginning to turn their backs on the Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Indeed, that the Istanbul election had to be re-run following the initial narrow win by the People’s Republic Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu, shows the influence that AKP holds on civic society, managing to convince the electoral commission to stage the race again for spurious reasons.
Following Sunday’s election in the city of 16 million, more than 52 per cent of Istanbullus voted for Imamoglu to the chair that Ergodan filled from 1994 to 1998. During his term as mayor of Istanbul, Erdogan used his growing influence to build his power base and strengthen the AKP network, laying the foundations for his two-decade campaign to make over the Turkish secular state to his Islamist principles.
Sunday’s result shows that Turks may just have had enough of AKP.
The results of the re-run of the mayoral election in Istanbul have shown, it seems as if Turks are beginning to turn their backs on the Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Certainly, the financial chaos of the past six months has removed some of the veneer of being a mercurial handler of Turkey’s economy carefully crafted by Erdogan. Inflation has hit Turks hard, their currency has been weakened, and their housing market has crashed, allowing foreign purchasers to snap up bargain basement deals.
Turks too have seen their freedoms gradually diminished, with those who speak out or comment against AKP policies facing spurious charges before the courts. Indeed, the judiciary itself, along with the senior levels of police, security and military ranks, have been purged of independent or freethinking officials who are judged unfit for office by their perceived disloyalty to AKP’s vision of the Turkish state.
Independent voices on television, critical newspapers of publications, websites that ask too many questions — all have been targeted by an increasingly authoritarian state seeking a media to speak with one view alone.
The election of Imamoglu has changed this, with ground-shaking consequences for a coalition government that keeps the AKP in power. It is the first real clear sign that Turks have had enough of AFK.