How Greek media sees the Turkish elections
With a leftist-based government in power since January, the results of last Sunday’s general elections in Turkey were seen in Greece largely as a victory for democracy and a defeat of autocracy.
The headlines of the Greek media gave as the main message of the Turkish elections, the “end of [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s dream” of an all-powerful presidency a-la Turca and concluded that the winner of the elections was the leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The customary exception to this analysis came from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), whose organ, the Rizospastis newspaper, concluded that last Sunday’s elections were really about “who and how will they continue to exercise policies at the expense of the working class of Turkey.”
Since the election of Syriza-led leftist government, the Greek media have been exclusively covering the day-to-day dramatic government efforts to keep the country in the Eurozone. However, the elections in Turkey did make headlines; there was even an attempt to analyze the new political environment in Turkey. Interestingly, while in the past “Turcologists” (i.e. journalists whose “beat” has been Turkey) would have been called in for analyses on the Greek-Turkish angle, this time, some dailies chose to interview Turkish experts from whom we gathered interesting insights.
For example, Assistant Professor Ayşen Candaş of Boğaziçi University, speaking to the TO VIMA newspaper, thought that “the problem in Turkey is that the opposition parties have deep divides; that is why the opposition cannot achieve the desired degree of unity. For example, whoever supports peace with the Kurds does not necessarily support a secular state; rather the opposite. And the majority of those who want the secular state to be preserved, being a mixture of nationalists or self-defined anti-imperialist leftists, do not support the peace with Kurds. Alevis who constitute the one-fifth of the population, feel increasingly alienated and both the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and HDP are after their vote. There are Kurdish Alevis as well as Turkish Alevis, Kurdish nationalists and Turkish nationalists. On the other hand, the camp of political Islam has very clear targets, very clear enemies and a hierarchical power structure based on blind obedience...The president feels that he has to concentrate all the power in his hands to create a new state and a new society.”
Professor Soli Özel of Kadir Has University says the Justice and Development Party (AK party) does not want a change in the president-based system. Speaking to the Kathimerini newspaper, Özel believes that Prime Minister Davutoğlu shares the same ideas as his party, but he might not survive if the results are seen as a defeat by Erdoğan. “He may be the loser of the elections,” says Özel.
Another interesting analysis is given by Sinan Ülgen, chairman of the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM). Speaking to Kathimerini, he too points out that the relations between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu will change, which may eventually mean the removal of the prime-minister. He also doubts whether the HDP would consent to a presidential system in return for more autonomy for the Kurds.
Greek-Turkish relations were absent during the election campaign. Would anything change? No says Özel but Ülgen believes that a likely AKP-Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) government coalition would create a more difficult environment, although he claims that “the presence of nationalists in the government could, paradoxically, facilitate a solution in Cyprus.