Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not just lose his aura of invincibility with Sunday’s election result, he undeniably lost Turkey, said an analysis for the Jerusalem Post.
The opposition won 9 percent more of the vote in the Istanbul rerun election, increasing its gap over Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) from 13,000 votes to more than 800,000, even with the playing field tilted against it.
“Erdoğan campaigned with the entire state apparatus on his side, including most media outlets, venues, and funds,” Pinar Tremblay, visiting scholar at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, wrote for Jerusalem Post on Monday. Yet still his AKP received more votes in only 11 of Istanbul’s 39 districts, after taking 23 on March 31.
“On June 23, Erdoğan lost Turkey officially and undeniably,” said Tremblay, who took four lessons from the vote.
The first is that Turkey’s president lost many of the pious voters that had long been the AKP base, as well as Kurds, who voted against him, according to Tremblay.
Second, after losing Ankara, Izmir, and now Istanbul by significant margins, Turkish voters are fast losing their love for Erdoğan.
“Lack of voter support means loss of legitimacy for Erdoğan, and he cannot afford critical voices to speak about his failed policies and their accumulated costs,” said Tremblay.
Third, Erdoğan is likely to use presidential decrees to limit municipal powers, as we have already seen at some tourist locations, like Cappadocia, put under special protection, according to Tremblay. Istanbul has been particularly lucrative for the AKP.
Lastly, as Turkey’s recession deepens, and more people are put out of work and struggle, they are more likely to seek prosecution for Erdoğan and his followers.
“In order to minimise such a risk, they change the laws and regulations frequently – just so that their own acts will be considered lawful. Hence, I expect injustice to spread fast in the short run,” said Tremblay. “Difficult days are ahead for Turkey, but this time AKP elites cannot remain immune to the trauma.”