Turkey: if only there was no war

A dramatic day in Turkey: the preliminary counting of votes in the presidential and parliamentary elections has ended, and although there is still no official result – it will be published on May 19 – it is already known that the final election of the leader of the Turkish people for the next five years will take place in the second round on May 28

Turkey: if only there was no war

Photo source: www.middleeasteye.net

Incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won 49.51%, his main opponent, the head of the opposition alliance of different parties, Kemal Kılıçdaroglu, 44.88%, and the third candidate, an outsider in the presidential race, Sinan Ogan, received 5.11%. None of the candidates received 50% plus one vote, which would have allowed him to be legally elected in the first round.

But in the parliamentary part of the elections, everything is more or less clear: the ruling alliance, led by Erdogan’s party (AKP), has strengthened its position and received more than half (321) of the 600 parliamentary mandates in the Grand National Assembly. In addition, the system of parliamentary elections in Turkey is mixed majoritarian-proportional, so the support in reality is even greater.

Most of the provinces voted for Erdogan and his party, including those that suffered from the terrible earthquake. Alarmist reports that people are dissatisfied with the actions of the government to eliminate the consequences of the earthquake, that in the affected provinces there are difficulties with registering to vote and other scares of Western newspapers, have not been confirmed. The voter turnout was evenly high throughout the country, with 87.6% of voters taking part in the elections, and the number of registered violations was minimal. That is, all the formal signs of electoral democracy are observed, the count is honest, there were many activists from more than 20 parliamentary parties at the polling stations, the system is transparent and “paper” – without newfangled digital bells and whistles. The fact is that Erdogan, the current ruler with all the levers of influence and almost limitless, as we are told, dictatorial possibilities, could not “stretch” the half-percentage of votes he lacked (about 250,000 ballots). However, he is generally not inclined to play imitation games, in the last elections Erdogan received 52.5% of the vote and was completely satisfied with this, there is no real fall in the rating (especially considering the results of the parliamentary elections).

Despite all the economic problems and skyrocketing inflation, the poorest segments of the population, religious Turks, military and civil servants, and the rural population vote for Erdogan. The electorate of Kılıçdaroglu mainly consists of more liberal-minded residents of big cities and tourist enclaves. In some respects, the situation is reminiscent of the Belarusian one, where the ruling president is not without difficulties, but protects the interests of the majority. And the compromise figure of Kilicdaroglu, put forward by the opposition alliance, is trying to bring the interests of the pro-Western minority to the fore.

Just yesterday, everyone thought that the election results would be disputed by both sides, bringing their supporters to the streets of cities, the danger of civil confrontation was not illusory, and even now it has not completely passed. But the Turks managed to remain calm on the first day, which increases the likelihood that the remaining two weeks before the second round will be spent in peaceful political discussions. It is worth remembering that Erdogan has an army behind him. After the 2016 coup attempt, there were big purges. In addition, the army is quite a privileged class in Turkey, it is a good social elevator, especially for people from poor families.

The not-too-charismatic Kılıçdaroğlu is unlikely to be able to bring a lot of people to the streets on his own, but behind him are the mayors of two capitals – Istanbul and Ankara, who have quite a lot of experience in organizing street protests, tested in city elections. The intervention of third countries, of course, is possible, but, in my opinion, it will be expressed mainly in the rhetoric and headlines of the Western press, which for half a year has been creating the image of Erdogan as a demonic dictator, only slightly inferior to Putin. Feeble attempts by the opposition on the eve of the elections to accuse Russia of meddling were not very successful, the Turkish voter is much more interested in domestic economic problems than the ideas of pan-Turkic greatness or following the path of Western democracy.

In Russia, it is traditionally considered that Erdogan is our friend, and, therefore, it would be good if he won the elections. I would suggest another maxim: it would be good if a civil war did not break out in Turkey. There can be no friendship in the human sense between countries. And with the right diplomatic efforts, we will achieve pragmatic relations with any Turkish government, we have a lot of common interests with them: in Syria, and on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, and in relations with Greece, and in trade. We’ll figure it out somehow.

Igor Vittel, VIEW

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