Even Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan most probably would not expect such a grand electoral victory. Was he not saying any vote above 38 percent [in the 2009 local polls for the AKP] would be a success? What were the reasons that pushed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to 45.6 percent at a time when it was expected to lose the elections? The espionage scandal and the premier talking at his last few rallies with a terrible voice, as if he had a frog in his throat, definitely pushed up the AKP votes few percentages. Still AKP receiving such a high a vote and winning in 49 provinces and hundreds of districts was a grand victory that must be applauded.
Some people have begun crying “foul” in vote counting. Ankara was a good example and indeed when this article was penned, the electoral board was still examining petitions alleging rigging by incumbent mayor Melih Gökçek. There was probably no rigging, as it is only normal to ask for a recount of votes if the difference between the top two contenders of an election is less than half of a percentage point, or just a few thousand votes.
Before the March 30 vote, many people, including this writer, were of the opinion that irrespective of the outcome, Erdoğan would be the loser of the election. Alas, we were all proved wrong. Not only his party scored an outstanding “victory” that earned Erdoğan praise from Vladimir Putin of Russia and the Arab sheikhs of the Middle East, there has been a marked regression of the discontent with him and his policies at home. It is too early to reach a definitive answer, of course, but perhaps once protestors gathered in front of the electoral office to voice their demand for a just recount of the Ankara vote might be the nucleus of a new “Gezi spirit.” Many Turks started complaining that protesting started becoming less interesting, with improved weather conditions, getting soaked by water cannons is becoming a luxurious form of refreshment. Furthermore, they were so liberally gassed all through the past months that they are addicted to it. Plus, can there be a better exercise than running from the police or plainclothes cops?
Sarcasm apart, Turkey has indeed landed in an awkward situation with the March 30 polls. The man expected to lose it badly, came up surprisingly victorious. The main opposition party could not exceed 30 percent electoral support despite all those massive graft charges, resigned ministers and the battle between the government and its former coalition partner, the Fethullah Gülen Islamist fraternity. This result demonstrated the urgent need for overhauling the opposition parties and producing a credible alternative to the Islamists in government. There ought to be something seriously wrong with the opposition parties. Yet, leaders of both two parties were so thick-skinned to declare their humiliating defeat as victory.
This country deserves better opposition parties. Is it not sickening to see a premier yelling and cursing at everyone, rampant graft claims, allegations that top security officials plotting to push Turkey in a war and still gain outstanding success in the polls? This result clearly shows that Turkey badly needs opposition parties brave enough to abandon rhetoric and empty slogans and instead come up with policy suggestions.
The continued failure of the opposition parties in becoming the voice of the masses’ discontent with the government might eventually produce a conviction to voice their discontent themselves. Such a situation might land Turkey in unprecedented unrest and show Erdoğan and his political clan how cute indeed the Gezi incidents were last June.
Repeated arrogance demonstrated at “balcony speech” on the other hand, showed how little hope we have for normalcy anytime soon.