Notes on another Turkish election catastrophe

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How Erdoğan won again

If you’re looking at the New York Times today, you’ll see only that Erdoğan failed to win a majority. Because neither Erdoğan nor Kılıçdaroğlu reached the 50 percent threshold and won outright, there will be a runoff election in two weeks.

Erdoğan performed badly—so badly that at first, it was possible to think Kılıçdaroğlu was winning; no one had ever seen such low early numbers for Erdoğan before. He lost Istanbul. He lost Ankara. He lost the first round—for the first time in his career.

That there will be a runoff might sound encouraging. But it isn’t. Erdoğan’s alliance has a majority in the parliament, and barring divine intervention, Erdoğan will take the presidency in the next round, probably in a landslide.

The polls were wrong—all of them. Kılıçdaroğlu significantly underperformed expectation. The opposition strategy—about which so many (including me, stupidly) were so hopeful—just didn’t work.

So Erdoğan will be president again. He will probably be president for life

To understand why, you need to be familiar with two parties, the MHP and the HDP, and their relationship to each other.

The MHP is typically described as “nationalist” or “radical right,” but “xenophobic, fanatically nationalist neo-fascists” is closer. The contemporary MHP also has respectable politicians, if you think politicians who could reasonably be described as Turkish analogues of Marine Le Pen or Georgia Meloni are respectable. I’ve spoken to some in their ranks who are thoughtful and well-spoken, even if I disagree with them. I had a lunch once with an MHP parliamentarian who was a fan of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and imagined himself a politician in their mould. We liked each other. So they’re not all fascists.

claire berlinski

You need to subscribe to The Cosmopolitan Globalist in order to read the full article. Claire Berlinski is a guest writer at Turkish Forum and editor in chief of The Cosmopolitan Globalist.

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