In the last days before Sunday’s elections, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, paradoxically, turned out to be even more populist than the populist Recep Tayyip Erdogan. With this, he entered a field where there are no voters for him, says Faris Kočan from the FDV.
Sunday’s presidential election in Turkey appears to be already decided, victory in the second round is smiling To Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His opponent Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the past two weeks, he also took a populist path with statements about the expulsion of all refugees, which according to the assessment Faris Kočana from the Faculty of Social Sciences error. As he said in the Ob osmih show on the First Program of Radio Slovenia, Kiličdaroglu should maintain the pace of social democracy: “However, he did the opposite, because he tried to gain a base within the center-right. With this, he found himself in a field where there are no voters for him, and at the same time he also harmed himself in relation to the opposition parties, who expect such statements from the ruling AKP or Erdogan.” Otherwise, according to Kočan, elections in Turkey are unfair. This time too, according to Kočan, the politics of fear reigned, some members of the electoral commissions were beaten and doused with boiling water. And yet in Turkey they emphasize free will in decision-making, participation is also high: “Machinations happen every day, but they always emphasize that the Turk as an individual is proud and proudly uses his right to vote, he also likes to photograph the ballot paper and legitimizes the elections himself.”
Inflation and slow response to earthquakes
Before the election, high inflation and an inadequate response to the earthquakes were seen as points that could shake Erdogan’s position, but none of this seems to have hurt him much. “On the one hand, it’s about “storytelling” of what Erdogan means: he’s been in power for 20 years, people have the feeling that they know him and that he knows them. It’s about “perception management” – during the earthquakes, everyone saw that the Turkish government is not working as it should. But it meant a lot to them when Erdogan showed up there saying he was trying. How did he manage to create that impression? By subjugating the entire media landscape and thus the narrative. Which as for the economy, Erdogan, like other populists, has an unorthodox view of some things that are part of common sense: there is a logic that you curb inflation by raising interest rates, but he went in the other direction: he lowered interest rates and thereby helped himself to elections.” As Kočan adds, it is also important how Erdogan presented Kilicdaroglu: as a stooge of the West and as someone who is not a figure of stability in the Middle Eastern environment. “Erdogan, on the other hand, represents stability.”
What will Turkish foreign policy be like after the elections?
Turkey is a member of NATO, but on the other hand, it has close ties with Russia. Kočan estimates that Turkey’s foreign policy is highly tactical, and in this sense, the strategic partnership with Russia would remain regardless of who wins. “If Kilicdaroglu were to win, some sanctions against Russia would go through, but nothing more. But Erdogan will probably maintain his attitude of someone who sits on two chairs: he deepens relations with Russia and, on the other hand, strives for peace. Studies show, that 80 percent of Turks want to maintain a neutral stance, and this must be taken into account by the political elite if they want to maintain power.”
With dr. Matej Hrastar spoke to Faris Kočani. Subscribe to the podcast: