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HomeHeadlineHow the 'Invincible Man' Idol Collapsed After the March 31 Local Elections...

How the ‘Invincible Man’ Idol Collapsed After the March 31 Local Elections in Turkey

Necip F. Bahadir


Do you know Sabahattin Ali’s story, ‘The Crystal Palace’? Although not explicitly named, the message of the story is political. The author’s close friends warn him not to publish the story, as doing so would inevitably lead to trouble. Ankara would definitely demand an account. Indeed, Ali eventually pays with his life, becoming acquainted with courts and prisons. His only escape from returning to prison is to flee abroad, where his ‘lifeless body’ is found at the Edirne border.

The theme briefly mentioned in Sabahattin Ali’s story goes as follows: Three cunning friends convince the townspeople that a city cannot exist without a ‘crystal palace’, and so they build a palace out of glass. The palace grows with additions, and the number of its inhabitants increases. The people struggle to meet the needs of the palace. The palace dwellers ignore the complaints of the people, resort to force, seize their goods and property, and imprison those who object.

The people are convinced that ‘the palace is so durable that no force can destroy it’. Those who doubt are silenced through deceit and fear. The possessions of the people are depleted, the sea runs dry. Upon decree, they hand over their last sheep to the palace. When murmurs among the people begin to rise, one of the trio says they haven’t eaten all the sheep, and some will be returned.

And the heads of the animals are distributed among the people. The heads consist only of bone; their brains, tongues, and eyes are gone… When asked “Why?”, they receive the response, “You wouldn’t appreciate their value, you would waste them!” Then, someone from the group says, “I have no need for such a head!” and throws the skull, which opens a hole in the crystal palace. Encouraged by this, everyone throws their skulls, and the palace, believed to be sturdy, collapses amidst a cacophony of glass.

It takes only 3-5 skulls to bring down the mightiest At the end of this story, Sabahattin Ali also pens the moral: “Do not build a crystal palace over your head. But if someday such a palace is built, do not think it unbreakable, untoppleable. To shatter even the mightiest, it takes only three or five skulls.”

Reflecting on the results of March 31, I remembered and reread Ali’s ‘The Crystal Palace’ story. The most important result of the election is not that AKP failed to win Istanbul or other cities and fell to second place, nor is it that CHP came out as the first party from the ballot box after 47 years. Undoubtedly, these are significant results, but there is a more important consequence of March 31.

It is the loud collapse of the ‘Invincible Man’ idol. Erdoğan had become a ‘invincible man’ in politics, victorious in every election he entered. Even in the toughest times, he knew how to turn the tide in his favor. Among AKP supporters, a belief settled that “The Leader will somehow win the election!” They attributed a sacredness to him beyond that of a ‘political man’.

However, the opposition, despite trying every method and coming together around a table, could not defeat Erdoğan. I believe he himself was surprised by his electoral victories. After the operations on December 17-25, he experienced the fear of losing in the local elections held in 2014. Given that corruption allegations had resonance in society, being caught red-handed should have brought down Erdoğan and AKP from power.

CHP had won 14 districts in Istanbul in 2019. In yesterday’s election, this number increased to 26. Istanbul, like Turkey, was painted ‘red’… “Am I perhaps the chosen one?” But the public did not care about the corruption news, and Erdoğan easily took both Istanbul and Ankara. Not just Erdoğan, any mortal in this situation might wonder, “Could I also be a chosen one, is there something extraordinary about me?” Considering the culture he came from, I believe Erdoğan indulged in this thought.

10 months ago, when all conditions were against him and the wind blew hard in his face, he struggled a bit but eventually managed to outpace Kılıçdaroğlu, securing the victory. It’s not hard to guess that Erdoğan and AKP expected similar results from March 31. Regaining Istanbul, lost by a mere 13,000 votes in the first election, wasn’t considered difficult, especially with the Good Party and DEM putting forward their candidates…

One of the reasons seen for the 2019 disaster, the issue of ‘voters moving out of Istanbul’, was addressed. Istanbul was much more important than any village headmanship or town mayoralty. Analyzing the defeat in Istanbul five years ago, Erdoğan said, ‘We will not allow voters who have moved to various cities of Turkey, especially the Black Sea, to vote.’ All precautions were taken, all resources were mobilized, a ‘game plan’ to win was developed, and doors were opened for the reconciliation process.

Now, the old status is impossible! Despite all this, it didn’t work out, and ‘March 31’ demolished the ‘Invincible Man’ idol. From now on, the magic is broken. The fear of ‘losing power’ grips AKP, while the opposition is wrapped in the belief and excitement that ‘Erdoğan can be defeated’. On the evening of March 31, Erdoğan said in his balcony speech, “This is not an end, but a turning point!” He’s right, both for Erdoğan’s story and for Turkish politics, March 31 is a turning point. From now on, the old status is no longer possible… Victories for Erdoğan and AKP now belong to the past, turned into nostalgia. The turning point marks ‘the end of the Erdoğan era’, signaling the beginning of a new era…

The collapse of the ‘Invincible Man’ idol or taboo is by no means a minor result. On the contrary, it changed the psychology of Turkey. From now on, a change in sociology is inevitable. Erdoğan can be defeated, AKP can fall to second place. Even in front of a weak crowd on his party’s balcony, he could play the lonely with his wife. The song ‘There’s no trace of the old you now’ could also be sung by AKP supporters.

The palace thought to be sturdy by the people turned out to be made of glass. To open a gap in the palace, ‘1 vote’ was enough. March 31 was thrown at the Crystal Palace as a skull, and the glass structure was demolished.

Could there be a more important result of March 31, the ‘idol breaker, taboo smasher’?

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