Monday, March 25, 2019

The Last Election?

Erdogan is being ruthless in the campaign leading up to the March 31st election:

The campaign of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government for the March 31 local elections will go down in history as the most polarizing campaign with the most virulent and offensive rhetoric that Turkey has seen under the Justice and Development Party (AKP). In no election before has the government employed religion and religion-based polarization so blatantly. The campaign has been marked also by unprecedented threats to opposition leaders and candidates as well as an apparent intent to not accept election results. Government spokesmen have virtually competed to delegitimize the opposition, seeking to keep their base intact by scaring voters with a demonized portrait of political opponents. The main cause of this extraordinary political syndrome is Turkey’s plunge into economic recession, which, coupled with a rising cost of living and growing unemployment, has raised the specter of the AKP losing the elections in big cities.

Erdogan actually played parts of the Christchurch murderer's video at one of his rallies to whip up religious fervor in his favor; and then took an opposition leader out of context to claim he blamed Moslems for the violence rather than saying that in addition to needing the West to protect Moslems here that "We need to acknowledge how people are slaughtering each other over Islam. The terrorism originating from the Muslim world."

And it is worse:

Erdogan has used also threatening language against leading opposition figures while dropping strong hints that he is inclined to not recognize election results that are not to his liking.

I worry that this election is proving so difficult despite Erdogan's "undisputed control over the media, public funds and the entire state establishment, especially the judiciary," that it will be the last semi-free election in Turkey. If Erdogan loses he may nullify it. And if he wins he may not take a chance that he might lose another election that isn't rigged 100%.

Will Turkey be compatible with modern NATO at that point? In the Cold War, being a democracy wasn't a requirement for membership. But Turkey under military rule was at least secular. Can Turkey that is an autocracy and Islamist remain?

UPDATE: Well that's a take I never expected:

The Islamic party that has ruled Turkey for nearly two decades is increasingly unpopular in Turkey and is liable to be out of power soon.

It was an aside in a discussion of Syria noting that Turkey could get focused internally instead of worrying about Syria. But the idea that mere voters could unseat Erdogan was rather a shock.

Is Turkey not that far gone yet? That would be nice.