Election paranoia

Election paranoia

Turkey is certainly going through some very interesting times. What will tomorrow bring? It is so unclear that some are suffering from serious anxiety.

Let me survey some of the produce of pro-government media commentators over the past few days. One leading figure, writing in one of the pro-government newspapers, is so sure of victory for both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that he headlined his article: “Erdoğan and the AKP will win directly.” Naturally, he was sure that Erdoğan would win the presidential contest on June 24 and there will be no need for a runoff on July 8. He suggested that it would not be surprising if either the “People’s Alliance” forged by the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) or the AKP alone wins two-thirds of seats in parliament.

With recent developments, Turkey has been left with almost no critical mainstream newspaper or TV station. Other than the negligible pro-Republican People’s Party (CHP) channel Halk TV and the newspapers Cumhuriyet, Evrensel and Birgün, the opposition is barely able to get its voice heard. The broadcaster Fox TV has been providing an opposition-inclined yet still rather impartial reporting on election developments. But unfortunately no one can claim that the Turkish electorate is being adequately informed about all presidential candidates and parliamentary contestants running on June 24.

Another senior writer predicted that Erdoğan would not only easily win the presidential election but his party will win a clear parliamentary majority, which will require them to move fast once campaigning comes to an end. For that reason, this writers claimed, Erdoğan has “not slept for almost four days in order to prepare an excellent list of parliamentary candidates.”

There was of course no word in any article in the entire pro-government media as to why there has been such a huge decline in the value of the Turkish Lira against the dollar - a 20 percent de-facto devaluation over the past three months. The rate fell to almost five liras to the dollar on May 23, but according to the penslingers and the economic executives of the government this was simply part of an international plot against the AKP government and Erdoğan.

One writer expressed concern about falling popular support for the AKP, asking “what kind of people are we?” Another pro-government pen slinger questioned the relationship between Turkey’s “strong economy” and the “surge” in the AKP’s popular support. Another writer voiced awareness of the crucial role that Kurdish votes might play in both the presidential and parliamentary vote, asking whether the AKP’s alliance with the MHP would further lower its support among Kurds.

Another senior writer headlined his article: “Don’t say I didn’t warn you, he is coming.” He was referring the outstanding performance of the CHP’s presidential candidate, Muharrem İnce. This was indeed a surprising admittance. But I then found that the writer was arguing that with his outstanding performance İnce could not be elected president but would most likely force a leadership change in the CHP and soon could become the new leader of the “perennial opposition.”

Of course, there was also considerable bombardment of İnce in the columns, with some alleging he is a “FETÖ instrument” and others agreeing that he is part of an “outside plot” against the “outstanding leadership” of Erdoğan, who is “leading Turkey to a new age.”

Perhaps Erdoğan was right to call this “ambush election.” Seeing the rampant frenzy and paranoiac obsessions in pro-government columns, I wonder if it would be possible to emerge in one piece if the election campaign period was longer than two months.

Yusuf Kanlı, hdn, Opinion, Turkey