Türkiye will be more self-confident after the elections (OPINION)
Dr. Cavid Veliyev
For the first time in the history of Türkiye, the Turkish people voted in a second election round on May 28 to elect the country’s president. As no candidate received 50 + 1% of the vote in the first election round, in which three candidates competed, the elections went to a second round. The candidates who received the most votes in the first round, Recep Tayyib Erdoğan (49.5%) and Kamal Kılıçdaroğlu (44.85%), competed in the second round on May 28; President R. T. Erdoğan received 52.14% of the vote and Kamal Kılıçdaroğlu 47.84%. So Erdoğan was re-elected President of Türkiye. Although for Türkiye experts these results were normal, they came as a surprise to many casual observers. It was thought that what had happened in the Turkish economy over the past two years, the consequences of the February 6 earthquake, the fact of Erdoğan’s government having been in power for more than 20 years, and the unity of the opposition would lead to a different result. Right now, many people are looking for the answer to why Erdoğan won again. There are several reasons for this outcome.
Although the public acknowledged the economic problems and the results of the earthquake in polls conducted before the elections, it was revealed that they thought Erdoğan was the leader who could solve these problems. In particular, the facts that houses built by the state company TOKI were not destroyed during the February 6 earthquake, the foundations for new houses to replace the demolished ones were laid within a short time, and 50% of the expenses for the construction of new earthquake-resistant houses were covered by the state, were among the main reasons for the trust in Erdoğan. As a matter of fact, the public sees Erdoğan as the solution to Türkiye’s economic problems and accepts the discourse of the opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as populism.
Turkish people have a very strong sense of independence and position as a leading state. This idea comes from the Ottoman past and the success of Turkey’s neighboring regions during the Erdoğan period. These achievements are also seen as a revolt of Turkey against “Western imperialism.” This is because, in the minds of the Turkish people, the War of Independence (1919–1923) was against Western imperialism and during the Cold War they were struggling with the unfair policies of that imperialism. For this reason, people voted for Erdoğan as president because they recognized him as a leader who fought against Western imperialism and made Türkiye more independent.
The indivisibility of the country and the survival of the state are very important for the Turkish people, who therefore often put security before economic needs. In these elections, the continued existence of the state became more important than economic issues. Specifically, it was a handicap for the opposition that the Green Left Party, known for its closeness to the PKK terrorist organization, supported the opposition candidate, Kamal Kılıçdaroğlu. This even caused a fall in the votes for the IYI Party, which is part opposition Nation Alliance. Therefore, Erdogan’s rhetoric and his achievements in fighting terrorism caused the Turkish people to vote for him.
These were elections in which nationalism rose in Turkey. It is possible to say that Azerbaijan and the Organization of Turkish States provided one of the main discourses for the government in these elections. The opposition candidate’s failure to include Azerbaijan in the “Turk’s Way” transportation project proposed by Kamal Kılıçdaroğlu caused a great reaction among Turkish voters and is thought to have caused him to lose votes. R. T. Erdogan’s emphasis on Azerbaijan and the Turkic world in his foreign policy discourse caused nationalist voters to support him.
One of the determining factors of these elections stemmed from the Turkish people’s demand for political stability. For this reason, the main discourse of the opposition, “return from the presidential system to the parliamentary system,” was not supported by the Turkish people. This is because, for those people, the parliamentary system represents the coalition period and political instability in Türkiye. For this reason, the Turkish people gave the People’s Alliance a majority in parliament, which they thought would preserve stability in the country, and also elected the People’s Alliance candidate to the office of president.
Ultimately, the result of these elections will be that the parliament and the president, who will serve for the next five years, will develop policies taking this choice into account. In this new period, the outside world will also face a Türkiye that has received a vote of confidence from the public and is more self-confident.
Cavid Veliyev, Head of the Foreign Policy Department of the Baku-based Center for the International Relations Analysis (AIR Center), exclusively for News.Az