Can the AK Party win when discontent is so high?
After June 7, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) both thought that if new elections were held they would stand to benefit. For this reason, they both engaged in coalition talks only half-heartedly. When the negotiations failed, neither was too upset.
However, there is no possibility for both parties to win this gamble: Either the AK Party will become a single-party ruler, in other words win the challenge, or the CHP would emerge from the elections stronger, weakening the AK Party.
Seven weekends from now, we will cast our votes in a snap election. The gamble that has been played over us citizens will be completed.
Before the June election, after looking at the rise in discontent in several opinion polls, I wrote that this discontent would absolutely have political consequences. I predicted that whoever wins the elections will have to tackle this rising discontent.
The election results pointed to a coalition, but the two biggest parties were not comfortable with forming a coalition and preferred to take a gamble instead. But today the number of discontented citizens in Turkey seems to be increasing, according to polls.
Who are those discontents?
Broadly, and most probably even including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, nobody is 100 percent happy with their lives and what is going on around them.
But we do not need such a broad definition. The discontents are those who have a particular level of discomfort with their lives and what is going on around them. For instance, right before elections, from May to June, 24,000 people working in the industrial sector and 14,000 people working in the construction sector lost their jobs. These people are not happy.
A Consumer Confidence Index is conducted regularly by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK). This index peaked in June 2011, when the AK Party’s votes were at 50 percent. Today, this index has dropped to its 2008 levels, a year when there was a major economic shrinkage.
In TÜİK’s Life Satisfaction Survey, the number of Turkish citizens who say they are “happy” is at a historically low level. This is largely related to the economy. But also add political factors such as the rise in terrorism, which hurts every one of us, and also add the state of political institutions that cannot generate solutions.
Now, try to guess: Under these circumstances, to what extent will the AK Party, which still rules today and which wants to be a single-party government in the Nov. 1 election, be able to achieve its desires.
I don’t know about the CHP, but the AK Party’s gamble does not look to be a winning one.
When racism is all around…
The latest racist attack was staged in the Central Anatolian city of Bolu. Kurdish workers at a construction site were under the threat of being lynched for hours. They had to be evacuated by armored vehicles.
Last week, there were racist attacks all over Turkey. The target was Kurds. While the PKK was taking lives, some groups were indiscriminately attacking Kurds.
Kurds are the most direct targets of racist attacks in this country, but they are not the only targets. Looking back at history, we can immediately remember what has happened to the Syriacs, the Armenians, the Jews, the Anatolian Greeks and the Alevis.
Bigotry is not only ethnic. Homosexuals, those who hold contrary political opinions, and intellectuals are almost constant targets of hate attacks in this country.
Worse, some segments who are targeted by such attacks themselves frequently resort to hate speech and racist discourse.
I guess nobody is exempt from racism in this society. When under pressure all of us show the racism inside us.
But we all deny that we are racists. If you ask them, they say the lynching crowd in Bolu was a bunch of uncontrolled people and the incident was “isolated” - it should not be attributed to the entire society.
Of course, crime is personal. To take it and attribute it to the whole of society is another form of racism. But we should not deny that such a vein exists in our society.
Some say there is no racism in Turkey and that incidents are just isolated. Well let me tell you: We do have racism here and it is much more widespread than many realize.