Elections and beyond
It could be argued that whoever does or does not emerge as successful in Sunday’s mayoral elections might not be an issue for the average Turk, as at the end of the day, there will not be much improvement in living conditions irrespective of who wins. Is that really the case? I doubt.
We entered the last week of election campaigns with an unexpected surge in the value of the greenback and most other currencies against the Turkish Lira. Despite warnings made first by the treasury minister and later the president, was it because of a manipulative attack, the work of some foreign conspirators or Turkish nationals buying into the dollar frenzy that the lira plummeted to its lowest against the dollar in many months. It sent a strong shock wave against society which is still suffering from the August 2018 currency rate catastrophe when the lira lost almost half of its value within a few hours in the afternoon of Friday.
Unfortunately, whoever wins Sunday’s local election in Turkey, he will have to embrace a painful period of restructuring to avoid a total meltdown. Neither a Mansur Yavaş victory in Ankara nor an Ekrem İmamoğlu victory in Istanbul—both opposition candidates—will not change anything for the good. Perhaps it will further worsen the post-election economic performance of the country. Similarly, what will be the impact of a probable success of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led People’s Alliance‘s candidates Binali Yıldırım in Istanbul or Mehmet Özhaseki in Ankara?
Well, an election victory of former AKP minister Nihat Zeybekci, who is running for mayor of İzmir, might make a difference, as an electoral victory of the People’s Alliance in the stronghold of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) might bring the end of CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s leadership. Naturally, many people might raise eyebrows and say: “If he managed to stay as party leader after so many electoral defeats, he can even survive such a humiliating defeat. But can he?
Whatever Turkey does or does not do, after the elections there will be a very strong wave of price adjustments, a probable increase in all indirect taxes and a readjustment of the revenues and expenditures of the country’s budget.
Foreign manipulative attacks or a probable financial war on Turkey by some “old allies” cannot be overruled in view of the crisis potential increasing in the foreign policy, defense and fundamental interests of Turkey areas. From the looming S-400 crisis with the United States that has the potential of unleashing an unprecedented crisis in Turkish-American relations as well as Turkey-NATO ties to the hydrocarbon explorations and gunboat diplomacy in the eastern Mediterranean and individual rights, freedom of expression and press freedom-centered worsening Turkey perceptions in Europe, there are very serious risks Turkey must face.
The refusal of the opposition parties to acknowledge how accurate indeed the president and his allies have been in this election in constantly stressing this country was not just having a mayoral election but more so an existential challenge, indeed Turkey has come to a very critical junction. Many people will not want to risk whatever is left from political and economic
stability of the country as instability might bring far worse consequences.