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Turkish Presidential Election

  • 12-05-2023 12:31am
    Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭

    The most consequential international election this year - first round of voting this Sunday May 14th, second round of voting likely if no candidate reaches a magic 50%.

    Incumbent Erdogan who has ruled for the last 20 years looks like he might lose his grip on power. Wicked inflation problem, magic bean economics, endemic graft and corruption in the construction industry cost many lives in the recent earthquake, has made Turkey a quarrelsome member of NATO sometimes uncomfortably close to Russia, accused of undermining secular nature of the Republic, dug-in in a military occupation in Northern Syria trying to keep the Kurds under the thumb, and has conducted a country-wide purge in all aspects of the state targetting the Gulenist movement.

    His main rival Kilicdaroglu is a softly spoken technocrat in the Kemalist Republican mould. Will certainly pull-back on closer relations with Russia and rehabilitate Turkey in the halls of Western capitals, although his likely Foreign Minister has said they will maintain working state-to-state official relations with Moscow and attempt to play a broker role.

    Deep interior Turkey which is traditionally pro-Erdogan seems to have fallen out of love with him, and democratic backsliding and the chipping away of the Kemalist nature of the Republic will mean he will struggle in Istanbul. His pet-team Fenerbache's fans turned on him following the earthquake.

    Whoever wins, Turkey is in for a rough-ride the next few years. Looked like the could break out of the middle income trap, but the economy is seriously on the skids. Still a linchpin country in the region, and a deeply complex place.

    For discussion...

    Post edited by Yurt2 on



  • Registered Users Posts: 183 ✭✭Samson1

    That would be the same Gulenist movement that launched a coup against him and the Turkish government in 2016, with limited army support and tried to kill him ? And failed?

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭Yurt2

    That's if you accept Erdogan's version of events, which you can take or leave as far as I'm concerned. Turkey has a long tradition of the army wading into politics (in fact for many decades they were inseperable). The main generals didn't appear to have strong connections to Gulen if any proven links at all, and were more concerned with the Turkish intervention in Syria. Gulen functions as a convenient boogyman in my estimation. He just looks like a kooky cleric based in America that runs a network of successful charter schools, not someone that can overthrow a state.

    Even if you accept that Gulenists were tangentially involved in the events, the purge was absurdley wide and deep, and many thousands were flung in prison in what appears to be local score-settling on very weak links to Gulen - sometimes for simply having sent their kids to Gulen cram schools for maths tutorials.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,039 ✭✭✭HalloweenJack

    Will be a close run thing.

    I see one of the opposition leaders dropped out of the race amid suggestions that he was going to split the opposition vote. Clearly, there's a real feeling that they can topple Erdogan. What happens after will be interesting. Breaking Erdogan's hold and re-positioning the country will take some doing.

    There was something about Erdogan falling ill recently and disappearing for a few days. I wonder will this be used to explain him "not being up for the fight" if he loses.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    I work with a few people from Turkey and they’re worried about trouble during and after the election. They don’t think any handover of power will go smoothly.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭Yurt2

    If Kilicdaroglu wins, the military will not see him wronged. The Turkish military is fundamentally a Kemalist institution, and they see themselves as guardians of the secular Republic. The relationship between Erdogan and the Generals has never been an easy one.

    It will get interesting if Kilicdaroglu wins by a small margin and Erdogan pulls a Donald and refuses to accept it. The Generals won't come to his aid, but he does have his loyalists up and down the country installed in the judiciary for instance (the precise thing he accused the Gulenists of doing).

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  • Registered Users Posts: 557 ✭✭✭Yakov P. Golyadkin

    Historically the military would certainly have been strongly secular however since the 'coup' attempt it has been purged and is increasingly Islamicised

    It is vital that Kılıçdaroğlu wins this, another victory for Erdoğan would see him lock in power over the institutions of state, media etc, sending Turkey further backwards.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭Yurt2

    Partly true but I'd suspect this 'Islamiscisation' is largely superficial.

    Turkey was built in large part by Ataturk and his military, it was cast in his image and it was always intended to have the final word in protecting the Republic. Even the senior officers that survived the purge are likely from multi-generational military families and you can take it as read they are dyed-in-the-wool Kemalists despite taking orders from Erdogan. Kemalism runs very deep in the military above all institutions.

    If Erdogan makes a go of stealing an election, my money is on them taking action, and swiftly. The Turkish military loves a power flex.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,618 ✭✭✭✭nacho libre

    So the Turkish exile in America, who organised the coup against Erdogan back in 2016, might finally get his wish.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,306 Mod ✭✭✭✭mzungu

    It helps Kılıçdaroğlu now that İnce has dropped out of the race. Sunday will be interesting .

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,944 ✭✭✭AbusesToilets

    It would be very interesting to see how Turkey's foreign policy would change if Erdogan loses. Could also have a massive impact on the immigration flow into Europe.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,689 ✭✭✭donaghs

    Gulen and his movement, as far as I can see, want Turkey to be an Islamic state - with them in charge. I don't see the election brings them any closer to that goal?

    Their downfall was falling out with their ally Erdogan.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,618 ✭✭✭✭nacho libre

    I meant in that his aim of seeing Erdoğan removed from power might finally be realised, not that Turkey would become an Islamic state. I was not aware Gulen was an Islamic. For sure that goal won't come to fruition if the opposition win.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭Yurt2

    There is scant evidence that the Gulen movement is involved in even prosletizing Islam. Their main activity is the provisioning of schools all around the world and woolly harmless interfaith dialogue initiatives. The EU and US refused to label it a terrorist organisation and has asked Turkey to put-up evidence of their alleged involvement in terrorism or indeed the coup. Turkey has never furnished anything credible.

    You wouldn't even be aware that their schools in the US are Islamic in character (and many parents wouldn't be either) as their curriculum is focused on rigourous education in the sciences and mathematics. There is very little to no mention of Islam in ther curriculum they teach to and the schools do very good work in neglected areas where the public school system has buckled.

    The Turkish Government paranoia about Gulen is reminiscent of China's crackdown on Falun Gong. For the longest time it was seen as a positive thing, and then one day an autocrat in a mahogany office decided it was a threat and tried to convince the world of its nefariousness.

    I'm open to evidence of Gulen or Gulenism being a involved in "terrorism" but there has never been anything put-up bar the word of Erdogan's government.

    Many people labelled as "Gulenists" purged following 2016 often did nothing more wrong than have been partly educated in places like Germany or the US and had nothing to do with Gulenism.

    People are free to take the word of a paranoid populist if they wish. I won't however and will await evidence.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭Yurt2

    Elon Musk getting into verbals on Twitter because the company complied with Turkish government requests to restrict access to certain content ahead of the election.

    May be as simple as something like a moritorium on campaigning the day before polling like we have here or something more widespread and censorious.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,666 ✭✭✭charlie_says

    What was the story with vote spitting candidate who was taking away votes from the US favoured Kilicdaroglu, when a sex tape was leaked? I think I saw somewhere that there was a claim that the original porn clip was found and the leaked sex tape could have been a subversive deep fake.

    Big if true.

    Can the Americans just get the message to **** off for once?

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭Yurt2

    Was wondering when the Tankies would be along to try to pin something or other on "the Yanks" or some internet CIA conspiracy theory.

    For reference, and I'm sure you're already aware of this, but the finger has directly been pointed at Russia as being responsible for these disinformation campaigns, and it's not like they don't have form in the recent past is it?

    Tankie gonna Tankie. Toot toot.

    Only a few hours to find out if Putin is going to be crying into his beetroot soup this evening or not.

  • Registered Users Posts: 557 ✭✭✭Yakov P. Golyadkin

    That may have been true in the past but since the turn of the century the role of the military in politics has been increasingly diminished.

    First we had the wish for EU ascension; The EU would not tolerate a member state being in a position whereby the military feel empowered to interfere in politics, and rightfully so. This saw the first push to put the military back in the barracks. As AKP was now in power and received (relatively) broad support they used the opportunity to remove certain institutions connected to education and media from the direct influence of the military, so further lessening their power.

    Second, the military increasingly failed to curb PKK attacks within Turkey, this diminishing their credibility amongst the general populace.

    Third, a 2010 referendum further restricted the power of the military, and granted the government more power over the judiciary. 2013 then saw the abolishing of the act that allowed the military 'guardianship' over the political process.

    The Ergenekon trials carried on about this time gave the Gulenists the opportunity to begin de-secularising the military, an opportunity gratefully received. The 2016 coup attempt then gave Tayyip the opportunity to cleanse the institutions of 'FETO', another opportunity gratefully received and used to mop up any real remaining opposition.

    The military had two recent opportunities to flex; The S400 deal with Russia, undertaken despite protests from the US, long the military's choice of partner, saw no protest or attempt to stop the deal from the military, despite it meaning losing access to the F-35 programme. Second, the recent quakes in Eastern Turkey; Traditionally the military would have dug in and helped out, this time they remained confined to barracks as the government failed to request their help. Previously, there wouldn't have been a request, the military would just take it upon themselves and act.

    That they failed to act in both situations would indicate an acceptance on their part that they are subordinate to the civilian institutions. I can't see the situation arising that would require them to intervene, but if a situation were to arise I do not see them leaping into action.

  • Registered Users Posts: 557 ✭✭✭Yakov P. Golyadkin

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭Yurt2

    Disagree on that point. The Turkish military underwrite and backstop the Republic. That's how they see themselves and that's what the population expects of them.

    If, (and it's a big if) Erdogan attempts a Trump like election swindle, they will act. They may grit their teeth at Erdogan when he has his mandate, but they are a Kemalist institutional in the bone marrow.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,666 ✭✭✭charlie_says

    So the Russians want to cease splitting the vote of Erdogan's main pro US opposition? I see.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭Yurt2

    The Turkish opposition across the spectrum are pointing the finger at Russia. Deal with it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭Yurt2

    Over half the counting done, Erdogan is over the magic 50% mark. Counts in mostly rural AKP areas are coming in quicker, more city counts yet to come in which will likely be Kilicdaroglu friendly. Istanbul a dead-heat between the two main candidates. Numbers favour Erdogan at this juncture and it's a toss-up if it'll be forced to a run-off if Erdogan falls below the 50% mark when all is said and done.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,666 ✭✭✭charlie_says

    Betting markets are putting Erdogan ahead.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭Yurt2

    I doubt Paddy Power analyst have the inside-track. Decent chance there could be a wild late swing to Kilicdaroglu like the Istanbul mayoral election in 2019.

    More city districts now reporting, Erdogan slipping towards 50% (50.8 to be exact), so a run-off is extremely likely. Some predicting that Kilicdaroglu could snatch it outright, but I doubt it on these numbers.

    EDIT: And these are the state news agency numbers, which come with a pro-Erdogan health warning.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,689 ✭✭✭donaghs

    I don’t think that’s the Turkish military anymore. Whatever the 2011 “Operation Sledgehammer” really was, the arrests and trials seemed to break the secular hold on the military.

    Erdogan and his Gullenist allies were blamed in some quarters for fabricating it to further their Islamist agenda.

    I’m sure there are some remnants of a secular “deep state” (a Turkish expression originally) in the Turkish military. But I don’t know how they could take any concerted and successful action against a government at this stage.

    The fact that highest ranking members of the Turkish military could be imprisoned on fairly flimsy evidence showed that there was a new sheriff in town.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,777 ✭✭✭timmyntc

    Election is a real shitshow

    Every other media outlet has widely conflicting results

    Hopefully Erdogan is out, but it surely wont be a peaceful transition of power. He has installed many loyalists during his reign in many institutions (including military)

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭Yurt2

    Erdogan down to 50.4% with 80% of results in. Mostly pro-Kilicdaroglu areas left. Run-off almost a certainty.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,778 ✭✭✭✭ninebeanrows

    Run off looking likely

    Erdogan will be happy

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 11,042 Mod ✭✭✭✭igCorcaigh

    This Kilicdaroglu fellow seems like a decent character, to me anyway. Really hoping that Erdogan loses...

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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭Yurt2

    Erdogan down to 50.1%. AKP apparently appealing counts willy-nilly in extremely pro-Kilicdaroglu districts to delay the announcements of these votes on to the ticker. Could be closer than we realise.

    Good drama.