As the crisis intensifies
What the exchange rate of the U.S. greenback bordering on 3 Turkish Liras to the dollar means to the tenant of the extravagant palace in Ankara’s Beştepe neighborhood might not be clear to the Turkish public. He cannot be in the mood for celebration. But nor can Ahmet Davutoğlu, his handpicked successor as chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), be happy with the crash-landing the country has witnessed since the June 7 parliamentary elections.
An executive of the pro-government media and a former AKP deputy was unable to keep to himself, commenting that since the AKP lost its parliamentary majority, the party’s grassroots have been demanding a repeat election. “Why would we not be given a second chance?” he asked.
Why would the AKP not be given a second chance? A very interesting question that revealed the mentality behind the failure to forge a coalition government after the June 7 elections. The AKP simply did not want to establish a government and share administrative power with other parties. And apparently those “other parties” also included the AKP’s traditional political crutch, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The High Electoral Board reportedly informed the AKP that early polls or repeat elections could be held by Nov. 1 at the earliest. Already senior political personalities expressed on various occasions that because of winter conditions, the last date suitable for elections might be Nov. 22; otherwise, polls must be postponed until spring next year, when weather conditions improve. The board also reportedly advised the AKP that Nov. 22 might be the latest date suitable for elections this year.
If five days before the expiry of the 45-day period to form a government – only after which the president can have the power to call for repeat elections – the president declares he will not call the main opposition leader to form a government, or the High Electoral Board “advises” the ruling party of a “suitable election date,” there is a clear misuse of executive power by the president, the ruling party executives and the election board.
To win some additional percentage points and come back with an increased number of parliamentarians is naturally a legitimate hope for the ruling party and the other parties. With the economy going astray and the depreciation of the Turkish Lira, exporters might be celebrating, but it has become unbearable for ordinary Turks. As such, can a surge in nationalism help the ruling party?
Sixteen soldiers and policemen lost their lives to terrorism in July, but the toll has reached incredible levels in August. On Wednesday alone, eight soldiers fell victim, losing their lives in a roadside bomb in Şırnak. Energy Minister Taner Yıldız was rather outspoken the other day at a breakfast with diplomacy reporters. He said because of terrorist attacks on high-voltage transmission lines, power distribution units and heavy-duty trucks, there were interruptions in energy supply. He said he could no longer say citizens were adequately and sufficiently served in many southeastern cities and towns.
Can the surge in terrorism, which will increase nationalist sentiments, help a nationalist-Islamist party in government make people forget about economic hardships and the explosion in exchange rates? Could people who would otherwise vote for other parties shut out economic difficulties and the crisis atmosphere fuelled by the deepening political crisis and vote for the ruling party because of the high terrorism-related death toll? Could people forgive and forget the adamancy of the ruling party not to share power with other parties? Could all these be forgiven and forgotten because of a surge in nationalist sentiment due to the high toll of soldiers and policemen falling to terrorism?
Walking on the blood of fallen heroes cannot be something anyone might feel proud of.
The AKP may be greedy enough to repeat elections until it makes a strong comeback, but why would anyone think a repeat poll in November would produce different parliamentary arithmetic?