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HomeHeadlineThe election strategy of Erdogan Regime

The election strategy of Erdogan Regime

What if the Ata Alliance, (Ancestral Alliance or Ancestor Alliance in Turkish. It was a right-wing electoral alliance in Turkey established on 11 March 2023) specifically Sinan Oğan, had masterfully executed chess moves to undermine the democracy and rule of law-centered election strategy of the CHP (Republican People’s Party) and the Nation Alliance from within? Have you ever considered this possibility? Let me explain.

Kılıçdaroğlu entered the first round with a serious momentum demanding democracy and the rule of law. The paradigm was a completely smiling one, openly declaring its aim to restore the disappeared justice, advocating for political prisoners, individuals affected by statutory decrees, imprisoned mothers with babies, fabricated courts built on fabricated charges, bribery and corruption, the rights and legal standing of the Kurds, gender equality, and improving relations with the West. Despite serious vote manipulation in the first round, they decided not to finish the job in the first round. They fixed Sinan Oğan’s votes within a 5% range according to the data from AA (Anadolu Agency). This was the bait. Their goal was to make Kılıçdaroğlu and the Nation Alliance swallow this 5% bait, in other words, the decoy. They swallowed it. They calculated that without taking this five percentage points, they would not be able to win the second round. However, there was probably no potential for a five percent vote in the first place. The fish took the bait, swallowed it, and got caught.

The Kılıçdaroğlu team initially did not object vehemently to the outcome of the elections. Thus, Erdoğan’s team breathed a sigh of relief. Suddenly, the world started discussing how Erdoğan, who couldn’t win the election in the first round, could still become a dictator. The regime got the promotion it desired, and it polished itself beautifully. It camouflaged its dirt and rust. Inside and outside, it declared, “Look, we have democracy here, just like lions!” Erdoğan was the target of this discourse. He was losing political ground and shrinking every day. The Nation Alliance had managed to bring together broad sections of society. Despite the discomfort within the Good Party caused by the support of the Kurdish political movement for the Nation Alliance, it was overcome through diplomacy and reason. The palace regime was experiencing tremors. Erdoğan had lost the advantage in the game.

Then, the Kılıçdaroğlu team completely changed Kılıçdaroğlu’s discourse by 180 degrees in order to secure Sinan Oğan’s five percentage points. The discourse of freedom was replaced by harsh nationalism. Even Ümit Özdağ was astonished by this, saying, “When Kılıçdaroğlu speaks, I think I am speaking myself!” While Kılıçdaroğlu was talking about democracy and the rule of law, he suddenly started discussing the deportation of 10 million refugees. They pumped a discourse of Turkish supremacy, nationalism, and racism into the public. They began to exploit a serious security issue that should have been dealt with much more calmly, without resorting to populism. They added dreadful xenophobic and racist elements to the mix. They portrayed all immigrants as a mass that harasses women, engages in unlawful activities, and clandestinely works to conquer the country, conspiring against the Turkish nation. Demonized refugees became targets. Rhetoric filled with hate and violence was pumped into the society’s veins. A campaign was built upon the reservations the public had towards immigrants.

However, as I mentioned earlier, this was probably the plan all along. Sinan Oğan didn’t have five percentage points. The results were announced as if he did so that naturally the Kılıçdaroğlu team would aim to gain these votes and change their election discourse. This would generate multiple strategic advantages for Erdoğan. Firstly, the Kurds would not approach Kılıçdaroğlu, who shifted his discourse towards nationalism, with their previous sympathy. The motivation for Kurds to go to the ballot box and vote would already be lower after the parliamentary elections. But now, Kılıçdaroğlu’s frequent use of the discourse of Turkish supremacist nationalists, and almost all speeches revolving around this topic, would significantly reduce Kılıçdaroğlu’s support among Kurdish voters. That was the calculation.

Kılıçdaroğlu made a big mistake with this strategy change and lost the advantage in the game to Erdoğan. By pressing CHP’s button, Erdoğan transported him back to the Turkish supremacist days of the 1930s. He found the opportunity to say to his own supporters, “Look, this is the so-called hope of democracy, Dersimli Kemal!” Or rather, Kılıçdaroğlu’s advisors and speechwriters who did not understand the strategy handed this opportunity to him on a silver platter. They also started spreading disinformation that there was an agreement between Kılıçdaroğlu and the PKK, which pushed the Kılıçdaroğlu team to defend themselves. Of course, while all this was happening, the Palace started planning how they would steal the second round with how many points difference. The irregularities and abracadabra that occurred during the vote count in the first round were forgotten. Their political pickpocketing had gone unnoticed using the “look at the monkey” tactic.

But what should have been done?

Despite everything, the refugee issue should have been approached as a technical matter and not exaggerated in discourse. Treating all Syrians and Afghans the same and declaring all refugees as the cause of all the negatives in Turkey would have played into Erdoğan’s hands. First, they destroyed Kılıçdaroğlu’s “democrat Kemal” image that stood out in Turkey and the world. They transformed him into a hawkish, aggressive, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, Turkish nationalist figure. This gave Erdoğan positions and advantages.

Then, Sinan Oğan declared his support for Erdoğan. Now the mathematical justification for stealing the election was ready! Since they didn’t object to Oğan’s five points after the first round, and even fueled their enthusiasm for those five points, they wouldn’t be able to object to automatically adding those five points to Erdoğan’s tally after the second round. The arithmetic of stealing the election at the desk had been resolved.

They will steal the election again in the second round, and if the opposition objects, they will say, “Can’t you even do basic addition and subtraction? Everything is clear: our votes plus Oğan’s votes equal fifty-four percent!” What will the opposition say?

They not only have all the resources of the state, they also have an opposition that lacks strategy.

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Dr. Mehmet Efe Caman is a Scholar of Politics at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN). Dr. Caman’s main research focuses on Democracy, democratization and human rights, Turkish politics, the Middle East, Eurasian politics and post-Soviet regions, the European Union. He has published a monograph on Turkish foreign policy, numerous book chapters and scholarly articles in English, German and Turkish about topics related to his research areas.

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