October 29, 2015 | Quote

Recep Tayyip Erdogan Determined to Retain Power Regardless of Turkey Election Results

Turkey’s second general election in five months is unlikely to resolve the nation’s deep political crisis, as observers say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is doubling down on the heavy-handed tactics that have kept him in power for the past 12 years even if his ruling party fails again Sunday to secure a majority.

With the nation increasingly on edge amid the civil wars raging across the border in Syria and Iraq and polls suggesting Mr. Erdogan still won’t have enough seats for a majority, one former member of the Turkish parliament said the president will use his party’s “enormous propaganda machine” to push for yet another snap election in Turkey in the spring.


“There’s talk in Ankara at the moment,” said Aykan Erdemir, a member of parliament for Turkey’s main opposition party through early this year, that Mr. Erdogan will do everything in his power to spoil the prospects of a grand coalition government if his own nationalist and Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) is not on top when the votes are counted this weekend.

Pushing for a third election will sustain the 61-year-old president’s immediate hold on power, said Mr. Erdemir, now serving as a nonresident fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and will immunize — at least for now — Mr. Erdogan’s inner circle from angry political foes in Ankara.

Such foes are eager to reopen a biting corruption probe that Mr. Erdogan famously decried as a “coup attempt” after it nearly brought his government to its knees in 2013. But without a power-sharing coalition government in place, it will be impossible for the opposition to use the legislature to bring the probe back to the fore.

The more worrisome prospect, said Mr. Erdemir, who spoke from Ankara this week, is that Mr. Erdogan’s maneuvering will thrust Turkey deeper into political uncertainty at time when long-boiling tensions between the government and the nation’s minority Kurds have soared to levels not seen since the 1990s.

“Some here believe Erdogan is playing with fire on the Kurdish issue and that once this thing gets out of hand it will be much worse than in the 1990s,” he said. “That was a time when human rights got breached on a regular basis by the government, as it tried to deal with the Kurdish question with sheer force, breaching the rule of law and carrying out almost crimes against humanity.”


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