Comments on the 2019 Turkish Municipal Elections – Dr. Hay Cohen Yanaroccak, April 4, 2019
Comments on the 2019 Turkish Municipal Elections
Dr Hay Eytan Cohen Yanaroccak
The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS)
April 4, 2019
First of all, I would like to mention that these latest elections from my perspective was a revolutionary one. I was expecting a downfall in the capital city of Ankara, but I was not expecting such a secular CHP (Republican People’s Party) victory in the city of Istanbul. Personally, I was there, and I got an impression that the Justice and Development Party would have succeeded, but the outcomes surprised, not only me, but many people in Turkey, and I guess even the candidate himself, Imamoglu, was also surprised in my opinion.
According to the Turkish political history, we all know that whoever is going to win the elections in Ankara, and in Istanbul, are supposed to also gain control of the country in the general elections, so it’s a very core indicator for the Turkish politics.
In this regard, I guess the alarm bells rang for Mr. Erdoğan, and that’s why he needs to basically ask himself what he has done wrong, and in this regard, we may say that the deteriorating Turkish economy played a very crucial role.
In order to prevent such defeat Mr. Erdoğan had attempted to take some precautionary movements, like he gave orders to the municipalities to arrange some cheap markets for selling vegetables and fruits so that the ordinary Turkish citizens would not be badly affected from the inflation.
But when the ordinary Turkish citizen began to see the huge queues and the growing poverty in the Turkish cities, I understand that they wanted to send a very clear message to Mr. Erdoğan, that he has to mend the situation in the economy, and of course, when we are speaking about the economy, I would like to remind you what has happened last year in August when Mr. Erdoğan engaged in a war of tweets with U.S. President Donald Trump, for not releasing pastor Branson.
Now after the elections again we are witnessing a very tense situation between the United States and Turkey, while Turkey would like to buy the Russian S400 missile systems, the U.S. is making it very much clear that Turkey cannot dance at two weddings at the same time, meaning it cannot acquire F-35s, and at the same time the S400s.
Of course, these, I mean the American warnings, will I guess be supported by new economic and military sanctions which will gravely influence the Turkish lira vis-à-vis the Dollar, and again it will influence very badly the Turkish consumer, the Turkish citizen, so if not in the short term but in the long term, the Turkish administration should come to a new junction, and they have to ask themselves whether to go with the United States, and the West, or to choose between its historical nemesis the Russians.
I must admit that it is not an easy decision but when we are looking on this particular matter I can tell you that Mr Erdogan, as far as I understand it, sees himself a lot closer to Vladimir Putin than to Donald Trump since he is not accused or he is not criticized on the basis of democracy or human rights for the elections, and other matters.
That’s why we are saying that these elections were municipal elections, but from my perspective it was a lot beyond that. That’s why it was very much crucial, and that’s why Erdogan is still not internalizing the results of these elections as we see that his party already submitted objections to the results of this of these elections and we’re going to see whether if they are going to accept it or not.
Ironically this defeat may also serve Mr. Erdoğan’s reputation in the Western world. We all know that the Western leaders, and Western politicians, especially the European Parliament is criticizing Mr. Erdoğan authoritarian attitude, and some of the politicians are even calling him as a dictator, so he may come and tell “look, if I was a dictator then how come I lost this election”, so if he will be wise enough, he may even use this this election defeat for his popularity and for his legitimacy both at home and also abroad.