Will the AKP ‘temporarily’ walk Atatürk’s path?
The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) votes are declining in both Istanbul and the capital Ankara.
In particular, the AKP is having a hard time mobilizing educated and urbanized voters.
The people’s love for Atatürk seems to be spreading. Even critics of the republic are now prone to fondly recalling Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s “blue eyes and blonde hair,” wishing he were still here.
Even the Konya football stadium in conservative central Anatolia played the İzmir Anthem over the weekend, a sign of solidarity with Atatürk and his ideals.
It appears that the AKP has become increasingly keen to embrace Atatürk. The party utters his name more often and tries to make subtle pitches to Kemalist voters.
All this brings a few questions to mind.
Can the AKP ever seem authentic on this issue? Will any significant number of Kemalists ever actually change their perspective and vote for the AKP? Is anyone going to buy this new strategy?
On Melih Gökçek
Melih Gökçek resigned as Ankara mayor over the weekend after 23 years on the job. He harmed both himself and the president in the process.
“I wasn’t tired ... I wasn’t failing ... I resigned because my leader asked me to,” he said announcing his resignation.
With this statement Gökçek damaged both his leader and his party’s reputation. By publicly undermining Erdoğan’s personality, by transforming himself into a figure bound to another man’s will, by conveying the situation in a way that implicitly criticized the leader, he caused significant damage.
But he also harmed his own reputation by painting himself as merely a subservient underling in a greater, more irrational power structure, in which the king issues orders and the obedient obey.
He harmed his leader by suggesting that President Erdoğan is capable of making poor decisions that nonetheless go unchecked.
If Gökçek had resigned by admitting his “fatigue and lack of success,” even if his confessions were untruthful, he would have protected himself, his party and his leader. But he opted not to do this.
Witness accounts of Osman Kavala
A colleague of the arrested businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala from Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University has made some revealing remarks concerning Kavala’s character.
“It was early June in 2013. We were closely monitoring the Gezi Park protests, worrying about government policy and wondering if we could be of any help,” they told me, continuing as follows:
“Some thought that if Erdoğan came to Gezi Park to meet protesters it would somehow solve the nation-wide demonstrations. Kavala and I were walking in Gümüşsuyu, near the park, observing the street art produced during the demonstrations.
“On the walls of the Japanese Embassy we saw a mural featuring a slogan insulting Erdoğan and his wife Emine. Osman said this was unacceptable. He told the security guards that we wanted to erase the slogan. He found a ladder and cloth and got to work. Being the tallest, he climbed the ladder and erased the slogan with his own hands.
“Whenever Kavala and I spoke, I always saw him as an authentic man who sought solutions to problems without seeking any benefits for himself.”