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HomeHeadlineTurkish Politics: Defending Meral Aksener

Turkish Politics: Defending Meral Aksener

M. Ahmet Karabay


I haven’t compiled any statistics, but I suppose I must be one of the most frequent writers about Meral Akşener on TR724. Around the time my articles began to be published on this site, on July 8, 2021, I questioned whether Erdoğan would include the HDP or the İYİ Party in the People’s Alliance and discussed Meral Akşener’s political style.

While the Table of Six meets monthly and makes grandiose statements on various topics, I warned on September 9, 2022, that “the weakest link of the Nation Alliance is about to break.” I don’t remember how many articles I’ve written about Akşener, but by November 26, 2023, when the name of the Nation Alliance was no longer even mentioned, I said, “The most competent leader is Meral Akşener.”

When the İYİ Party declared it would enter the local elections on its own and nominated Buğra Kavuncu, who had worked shoulder to shoulder with Ekrem İmamoğlu five years ago, against him in Istanbul, it became clear there were no bridges left between the parties. They started to unleash words they had held back before, like a couple spilling secrets after a divorce.

‘IT’S NOT BEŞTEPE CENSORING US, BUT SARAÇHANE’

In a speech at the İYİ Party Group Meeting, Meral Akşener’s words, “It’s not the Palace trying to censor us, but the Municipality. It’s not Beştepe trying to block us, but Saraçhane,” resonated widely in the political scene.

Akşener’s remarks sparked discussions not just in Saraçhane, but among all segments of society, both government and opposition alike. You’ve probably come across some of what was written and drawn about it.

Responding to the censorship claims, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu stated that billboard rentals are managed by private companies and they had no involvement. He commented, “It seems going against Ekrem İmamoğlu in Istanbul is thought to be profitable. No stone thrown at us will have any effect.”

İmamoğlu, who likes to practice politics in the style of Erdoğan and uses similar methods. Based on my understanding of İmamoğlu’s political style, in my personal opinion, Akşener is not mistaken in her claim. This is another aspect of the matter.

After Meral Akşener’s statement, “It’s not Beştepe trying to block us, but Saraçhane!” the reactions and discussions were horrific. Remember, Akşener is doing her job. Many people, reminding of the days when Akşener and İmamoğlu were closely aligned before the May 14 elections, are asking, “What happened?”

Nothing has changed. Politics requires the same actions today as it did then. Is only Tayyip Erdoğan and Devlet Bahçeli allowed to do the opposite of what they did yesterday, to say the exact opposite of what they said? Please be fair.

The billboard that covered the streets for the May 14, 2023 elections, showed Meral Akşener with Mansur Yavaş and Ekrem İmamoğlu by her side saying “We will make history.” Now, the situation is completely different.

Meral Akşener is also engaged in politics in this country. She has as much right as Erdoğan and Bahçeli to say, “Yesterday is yesterday, today is today.”

In fact, the İYİ Party leader is criticized for only criticizing the CHP and not saying anything to the government. When she criticizes the CHP, she is accused of leaning towards the government. At its core, Akşener, with the stance of entering the election “on her own,” is brandishing her sword at both sides.

Of course, it would have been easier to understand the İYİ Party’s stance during the general elections. It could be interpreted that Akşener acted this way to bring more MPs into the Parliament. Local elections are different. Only one person will be elected.

From this perspective, the fact that those who were allies before are now competing against each other is perceived to benefit the ruling party’s candidate.

‘YOU CAN’T GET MILK FROM A BILLY GOAT, ERDOĞAN CAN’T BECOME PRESIDENT’

MHP leader Bahçeli, before the 2014 presidential elections, extensively listed reasons why Erdoğan could not be elected president. After listing all his reasons, he concluded with, “You can’t get milk from a billy goat, Erdoğan can’t become president.”

As the election atmosphere heated up, the polemics between Erdoğan and Bahçeli escalated. The words exchanged between the two were heart-wrenching and conscience-stirring. Looking back today, it seems like a Hacivat-Karagöz dialogue.

If you search on social media, especially YouTube, for “Bahçeli, Erdoğan, insult” together, you’ll find instances where they attacked each other with shameful words.

Now, these two are moving forward shoulder to shoulder, sharing the country’s interests, though they sometimes show their teeth to each other to appear protective of their supporters.

It seems that society has become accustomed to seeing those who insulted and slandered each other yesterday walking arm in arm today. Apparently, the subconscious of society has accepted this as the norm, hence it’s not yet accustomed to allies turning against each other today.

However, politics is conducted on an entirely filthy ground. Personal attacks, conspiracies, lies, saying black is white today when you said it was black yesterday is not considered shameful, unfortunately, this is the state of politics in Turkey.

During our childhood, when we played with our friends, there was a mischievous one among us. When he did something shameful, we would remind him it shouldn’t be done by saying “Shame!” He would respond every time such conversations occurred, “Put a dot on it, and it disappears.” He would pronounce “disappears” in the local dialect as “gayıp.”

Back then, I couldn’t understand how putting a dot over the word “shame” could make it “disappear.” I never asked him because I knew he couldn’t answer. I only learned in my school years that both words originated from Arabic and that putting a dot over “shame” could turn it into “disappear.”

Unfortunately, the situation in Turkey is dire. Politics is indeed conducted in this manner. Those who see their profession in this field may even convince you that “you become friends or foes when necessary.” The ethical threshold in politics is broken, and what is considered “shameful” is somehow made to “disappear.”

The pillars that have kept this society standing are being cut down one by one. The society is being corrupted. Many things destroyed in the country can be rebuilt, but once people and society are corrupted, it’s not easy to rectify, unfortunately.

Independent of Meral Akşener’s words, I say this: We will see unprecedented levels of filth in the March 31 local elections. In the last month, especially in the final two weeks, we will experience scenarios beyond our imagination and thoughts.

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