In the News: Erdogan Tightens His Grip on Turkey

Turkey election: President Erdogan tightens his grip on power in surprise landslide victory, Patrick Cockburn Independent, 2015-11-02

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won a decisive victory in the Turkish parliamentary election, with his Justice and Development Party (AKP) winning a majority of seats and defeating the other three opposition parties. […]

In the wake of the AKP’s spectacular victory, it will be in a strong position to take control of all remaining levers of power: army, security services and media. Ever since it first formed a government in 2002, the AKP has been progressively eliminating all opponents in positions of authority in the secular Turkish state founded by Kemal Ataturk. Almost all the state and private media has already come under AKP control, which is one factor explaining its gain in votes. State television has given blanket coverage to Mr Erdogan and the AKP, while largely ignoring its opponents. […]

[…]Turkey’s growing ethnic, sectarian and religious divisions are not going to disappear. Among Kurds, the poor results of the HDP will strengthen those who argue that armed struggle is the only way forward. There will also be many who will argue that Mr Erdogan and the AKP won because they frightened voters by fomenting a crisis and an atmosphere of fear which they then pledged to end.

The final weeks of the campaign took place with no rallies, except those held by the AKP, because of the bombing of a demonstration in Ankara on 10 October that left 102 dead. Many voters in Istanbul said they feared that the violence was going to get worse. Many secular voters did not conceal their revulsion against the AKP-run state imposing more Islamic norms on Turkey. Aynur Olanlar, whose husband worked in a bank in Istanbul, said “I don’t want these people with head scarves any more.” […]

Bad news indeed, given Erdogan’s desire to concentrate a maximum of power in his presidency and the Islamo-fundamentalist tendencies of his party.

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