Istanbul celebrates, Erdogan rumbles

After the local elections the Turkish opposition hopes for a turnaround

"It is time to talk about fascism", says writer Asli Erdogan, who lives in exile in Germany, about the situation in Turkey. What she means by this: the human rights situation, the arbitrary justice system, the synchronized press, the persecution of opposition members. Currently there are still approx. 140 journalists in custody.

"The prisons are totally overcrowded", she says and doubts that the figures announced by the government are true. Currently, new detention centers have been built throughout the country, and opponents of President Erdogan are still being arrested on a daily basis. Asli Erdogan spent 132 days in Bakirkoy women’s prison near Istanbul in 2017 – accused of articles she had written.

"If we lose Istanbul, we lose Turkey"

But since the local elections three weeks ago, the opposition is once again raising its hopes. The ruling AKP lost in numerous key major cities, including Istanbul and Ankara. "If we lose Istanbul, we lose Turkey", The president himself had said and declared the election once again to be the election of his fate. In the end, it was the lousy economic situation that cost him his success.

Unemployment is almost fifteen percent, inflation twenty percent. In the course of the year, Turkey will in all likelihood have to borrow money from the IMF in order to continue servicing its billion-dollar debt. The majority of citizens feel this in their own pockets. Many daily necessities are almost unaffordable for average earners.

Counter-model to Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Over the weekend, Istanbul’s new mayor Ekrem Imamoglu of the Kemalist CHP was celebrated by hundreds of thousands of people. Er wolle fur alle Burger da sein und die Konflikte beenden, sagte er. Even during the election campaign, he presented himself as calm and conciliatory – a counter-model to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom he simply loved to pile on with his angry attacks. But still the AKP does not want to accept the election result.

Despite the fact that several post-poll results showed the same result, Erdogan is putting prere on the electoral commission YSK to repeat the election. Two years ago this prere was already successful. At that time, the YSK officially admitted unstamped ballots during the payments, thus opening the door to manipulation.

The Erdogans’ fear

This time, however, it could be different. It is unlikely that a new election will produce a new result. The Turks’ dissatisfaction with the economic situation will not vanish into thin air in a few weeks.

Therefore, there is a risk that Erdogan could try again what already helped him to succeed in 2015: At that time, the small HDP had spoiled the absolute majority of the AKP, which is why Erdogan blocked the coalition negotiations, forced new elections and meanwhile plunged the country into chaos with a new confrontation with the PKK.

There are already first signs of this: The AKP-affiliated media described the election result as a "fraud" "coup" and jerked the entire opposition once again in the vicinity of terrorists. At a soldier’s funeral on Monday, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu was attacked by an angry mob. It later emerged that one of the attackers, who punched the politician in the face, was an AKP member.

Erdogan blamed foreign media for the crash of the economy – while opposition politicians in the now taken over town halls are already analyzing where all the tax money went in the last years. For example, the AKP handed over millions to conservative Islamic foundations. The Erdogan clan was particularly afraid of this: That little by little the whole web of corruption in which the family is entangled can be proven.

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