Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan is not a happy man. And when he is not a happy man, he often does things to make others unhappy, like he did after a failed coup against him in 2016 when he arrested hundreds of people, blamed foreign powers for interference and later had a ‘vote’ in which he won for himself powers to control many branches of the government including the courts and the military.
What has upset him this time around, is the loss of seats for his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the recently held local elections. They lost in 12 major Turkish cities including the capital Ankara and Istanbul. While the party still won a majority of the vote nationwide, these important seats are responsible for over 60% of Turkey’s GDP (Gross National Product which is the total value of all goods and services provided in a country in a year). Therefore much economic power is now in the hands of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Why did he lose? The loss seems to be because people are out of jobs and face economic difficulties. The cost of living is also rising and all this is making people angry and frustrated with the government.
Mr Erdogan will be doubly upset because he had several advantages during the elections. The government controls nearly all the media and therefore he could send out very positive messages for his party and more importantly, more against the opposition. He also made this local election into a fight against terrorism, an issue that is usually discussed at a national-level. He said that outsiders, especially the United States and Europe, were trying to destabilise Turkey. Other countries accused Mr Erdogan of creating fear in the people in the hope that they see him as the only reliable person who can protect Turkey.
Meanwhile, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the CHP, is overjoyed and believes that there is hope that real democracy will return to Turkey now. Mr Erdogan does not face an election until 2023, and he is a great survivor. However, with rising food prices, inflation and unemployment, the fight to stay in power is going to be harder than anyone thought.
Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.