Bar­ring a few remain­ing uncer­tain­ties, the elec­toral choic­es against Erdoğan in Turkey for the ear­ly pres­i­den­tial and leg­isla­tive elec­tions in June are now known.

Dis­cus­sions and con­sul­ta­tions among so-called “oppo­si­tion” par­ties – the HDP hav­ing been kept aside – were car­ried out as Sela­hat­tin Demir­taş iron­i­cal­ly stat­ed, “in a five-star hotel”  and pro­duced  an elec­toral alliance of mutu­al arrange­ments between four par­ties of uneven weight.

This alliance will bring togeth­er the main oppo­si­tion par­ty the CHP (Repub­li­can peo­ple’s par­ty, a lib­er­al kemal­ist par­ty), the very recent Iyi Par­ty (the Good Par­ty, Islamo-nation­al­ist), the Saadet Par­tisi (Par­ty of Felic­i­ty, Islamo Con­ser­v­a­tive) and the Demokrate Par­ti (Demo­c­ra­t­ic, Cen­ter-Right Party).

Even though Erdoğan’s AKP Par­ty made a sim­i­lar pact with the ulta­na­tion­al­ist MHP (Nation­al­ist Action Par­ty), the AKP denounced this. “What moti­vates and unites them are not the inter­ests or the future of Turkey but their oppo­si­tion to the Pres­i­dent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan”, declared the gov­ern­men­tal spokesman Bekir Boz­dağ. He fur­ther denounced “a forced marriage”.

More­over, two of the par­ties, the CHP and Iyi Par­ti are pre­sent­ing can­di­dates who will “count” for the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. The prin­ci­ple being to cre­ate a polit­i­cal block coun­ter­ing Erdoğan, with a wide appeal, and future a major­i­ty or major­i­ty oppo­si­tion in the par­lia­men­tary assem­bly result­ing from these elec­tions, held the same day as the Pres­i­den­tial one, next June 24th.

The CHP has des­ig­nat­ed deputy Muhar­rem Ince to go up against Chief of State Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He is one of the rare deputies to have deplored the lift­ing of par­lia­men­tary immu­ni­ty that led to arrests and tri­als. “With God’s per­mis­sion and the will of the nation, I will be elect­ed Pres­i­dent,” he declared. He is already right on topic…

For her part, the can­di­date for the Good Par­ty, Mer­al Akşen­er, had already antic­i­pat­ed the elec­tions in cre­at­ing her polit­i­cal vehi­cle and had not hes­i­tat­ed  in say­ing she would be a can­di­date “against”  Erdoğan, right from the start.

In par­al­lel to this, an attempt at pre­sent­ing a com­mon pres­i­den­tial can­di­date against Erdo­gan failed. The prospec­tive can­di­date, Abdul­lah Gül, ex Pres­i­dent et ex ally of the Reis, pre­ferred to step back in the face of the appetite of  the“Good” Par­ty’s can­di­date who was shap­ing up into Erdo­gan’s main oppo­nent, the one who might stop Erdo­gan from being elect­ed on the first round. Dis­parag­ing com­ments and accu­sa­tions of Gülenism had already been launched against him.

The HDP, always pre­sent­ed as “pro-Kur­dish”, wavered between the need for a sin­gle pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of a still-to-be cre­at­ed oppo­si­tion block, a “left” in which the pres­ence of ultra-nation­al­ism, polit­i­cal islamism and kemal­ism were hard to imag­ine, and the can­di­da­cy of the one who has borne the plat­form of the sole demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­si­tion at the last pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Sela­hat­tin Demirtaş.

This was a still-born posi­tion, giv­en the bal­ance of polit­i­cal forces in Turkey, and the grow­ing iso­la­tion of the demo­c­ra­t­ic and social oppo­si­tion, an iso­la­tion rein­forced since Afrin. The HDP has thus begun to gath­er forces and cre­ate local group­ings for the leg­isla­tive elec­tions, so they may des­ig­nate their own can­di­dates, and announced its sup­port for the can­di­da­cy of Sela­hat­tin Demir­taş, if such is not ren­dered impos­si­ble through hasty sen­tenc­ing in one or oth­er of the ongo­ing tri­als… How­ev­er, the announce­ment of the can­di­da­cy is effec­tive for the time being.

For infor­ma­tion pur­pos­es, such are the main traits of the elec­toral mech­a­nism. And although the ral­ly­ing cry is “every­one against Erdoğan”, it is obvi­ous that the whole sce­nario is pre­sent­ing itself as an addi­tion of improb­a­ble elec­toral com­po­nents, cre­at­ing a cli­mate of poten­tial “polit­i­cal cri­sis”, one in which Erdoğan and the ultra-nation­al­ists had hoped to take advan­tage of a pos­i­tive surge cre­at­ed by nation­al­ist and mil­i­taris­tic con­fu­sion sur­round­ing the agres­sion of Afrin.

One could then be tempt­ed to act as is this were pos­si­ble and to con­cen­trate on cal­cu­la­tions lead­ing to Erdoğan’s elec­toral defeat. A most seduc­tive idea, but to what end?

It may be tempt­ing to ignore or dis­guise the cur­rent state of polit­i­cal forces that result­ed in the Reis’ acces­sion to and main­te­nance in pow­er, the renew­al of the state of emer­gency, the over-rid­ing nation­al­ism, stronger than ever, the unavoid­able Islam­ic pop­ulism in order to imag­ine that a durable polit­i­cal solu­tion could emerge from these elec­tions under influence.

In math­e­mat­i­cal terms, the “Good Par­ty” can­di­date can come in sec­ond posi­tion in this first round and cause Erdoğan to stum­ble, even if the CHP’s deci­sion to also present a can­di­date weak­ens the odds. In such a con­text, the pres­ence of Sela­hat­tin Demir­taş is total­ly jus­ti­fied and increas­es the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a non-absolute major­i­ty for Erdoğan in the first round.

The “use­ful” anti-Erdoğan and the “any­thing but Erdoğan” vote will thus be the sole rule of the oppo­si­tion for over half of Turkey…

But this paren­the­sis decid­ed by Erdoğan is not a math­e­mat­i­cal equation.

We must also recall that the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion will also serve as the appli­ca­tion of the con­sti­tu­tion­al mod­i­fi­ca­tions and that in order to re-exam­ine them, there would be need of a par­lia­men­tary vote with very pecu­liar quo­rum rules, or anoth­er ref­er­en­dum. The new Pres­i­dent, since this seems to be the main bet, has allies and a polit­i­cal pro­file that would accom­mo­date itself per­fect­ly with the new Pres­i­den­tial uni­form. In which case, we would sim­ply wit­ness a game of musi­cal chairs.

Stay­ing in the realm of elec­toral math­e­mat­ics, we must also recall that by pre­sent­ing a can­di­date to the pres­i­den­cy, the HDP does weak­en the chances of a first round vic­to­ry for Erdoğan. But should the Par­ty not gath­er 10% of the votes at the leg­isla­tive elec­tions on the same day, it will de fac­to serve to increase the num­ber of seats redis­trib­uted to the AKP. That is the idi­ot­ic log­ic of that par­tic­u­lar elec­toral democ­ra­cy, with its quo­ta bar­ring 10% of the pop­u­la­tion from rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the parliament…

Turkey’s open wounds, rubbed with the salt of recent nation­al­ist mil­i­tarism will not dis­ap­pear mag­i­cal­ly in an elec­tion, which can be total­ly manip­u­lat­ed under the state of emer­gency. Those wounds pro­found­ly divide, are sources of extreme polar­iza­tions, of depoliti­ciza­tion, be it through pop­ulism, big­otry or fear. More­o­ev­er, the cheat­ing machine was recent­ly con­sol­i­dat­ed by decree. We could also men­tion the vot­ing con­di­tions reserved to prisoners…etc…

In this con­text, there is need to avoid sink­ing into total pes­simism or resort­ing to a Pollyan­na-like elec­toral amne­sia stat­ing “any­thing oth­er than the cur­rent President.” 

 Only two things can emerge from these elec­tions, of which the prud­ish Coun­cil of Europe said in April that they would not be legit­i­mate: “an exarcer­bat­ed polit­i­cal cri­sis”, or “the exarcer­ba­tion of ten­sions and polar­iza­tions”.

This posi­tion could evolve, giv­en ongo­ing skull­dug­gery, and we could see under­hand­ed inter­na­tion­al sup­port for the evic­tion of Erdoğan, who is a nui­sance in cur­rent affairs, in more ways than one…

For the pop­u­la­tions of Turkey, this would remove for a time the real fear of civ­il war, which is in every­one’s mind, just as there was a mag­i­cal sense of a “prov­i­den­tial coup d’é­tat” when faced with the ris­es of polit­i­cal islamism. But this would increase the need for the demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­si­tion’s polit­i­cal prepa­ra­tion of the “after”, before and dur­ing these deadlines.

There are no pre­lim­i­nary signs of such prepa­ra­tions at the moment in what is left of the activist side of the HDP, the par­ty appear­ing to be more slant­ed toward elec­toral­ism than toward devel­op­ing a strat­e­gy to deal with grow­ing ten­sions in the future. Dec­la­ra­tions by Sela­hat­tin Demir­taş will play a deter­min­ing role, the new direc­tion stick­ing to the for­mu­la­ic for the time being, judg­ing by their recent elec­toral­ist stances.

The extreme divi­sions among the social and polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion, its logis­ti­cal and mil­i­tant weak­en­ing, the con­stant coer­cion to which it has been sub­ject­ed, has led it to adopt­ing a defen­sive stance more than one of pro­pos­als and of con­vinc­ing argu­men­ta­tion. The extreme­ly defen­sive May 1st slo­gans in Turkey this year were a demon­stra­tion of this. One can fear that a cam­paign polar­ized by a “use­ful vote” against Erdoğan will fin­ish frag­iliz­ing the oppo­si­tion in favour of nation­alisms of every ilk.

Thus, Turkey is head­ing toward a vote “with no basic con­vic­tions”, by oppo­nents or dis­si­dents, a gam­ble con­cern­ing the win­ning tick­et of which it is already known that, in either case, it will act as a new turn­around, like that of June 2015, of the failed putsch in 2016, and of the con­sti­tu­tion­al referendum…

Of course, just as was the case with the Kur­dish inde­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum ini­tat­ed by Barzani, where vot­ing NO was impos­si­ble, who could say now, this minute, that he or she does­n’t wish for an end of Erdoğan’s rule ? But as we saw then, when an elec­toral joust is noth­ing but a shell game with loaded dice, a vote can always rep­re­sent a plunge into even more improb­a­ble consequences.

To be continued…

Elec­tions anticipées en Turquie : jeu de bon­neteau ? Cli­quer pour lire

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
Vous pouvez utiliser, partager les articles et les traductions de Kedistan en précisant la source et en ajoutant un lien afin de respecter le travail des auteur(e)s et traductrices/teurs. Merci.
Kedistan’ın tüm yayınlarını, yazar ve çevirmenlerin emeğine saygı göstererek, kaynak ve link vererek paylaşabilirisiniz. Teşekkürler.
Ji kerema xwere dema hun nivîsên Kedistanê parve dikin, ji bo rêzgirtina maf û keda nivîskar û wergêr, lînk û navê malperê wek çavkanî diyar bikin. Spas.
You may use and share Kedistan’s articles and translations, specifying the source and adding a link in order to respect the writer(s) and translator(s) work. Thank you.
Por respeto hacia la labor de las autoras y traductoras, puedes utilizar y compartir los artículos y las traducciones de Kedistan citando la fuente y añadiendo el enlace. Gracias
Daniel Fleury on FacebookDaniel Fleury on Twitter
Daniel Fleury
Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…