Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Erdogan Won; Turkey Lost (?)

Erdogan won his election as all powerful President of Turkey. Of course he won. The ballots were barely closed before it was announced that with 97 % of the ballots counted the President won 52.4% of the vote. Votes were counted quicker in Turkey than in American elections. Of course he won He won before the ballots were cast. He won because he was never going to lose. He won because he could not, would not lose. He has never lost an election. Reccip Tayyid Erdogan has won every election. He is a consummate politician, an indefatigable campaigner, with great personal skills. He connects with his base just as President Obama does with his. He won because he built a record of success, starting as Mayor of Istanbul. We visited Istanbul five years ago. It was a great, vibrant city. It wasn’t 1994 when he became Mayor of Istanbul with 25.2% of the vote. That Istanbul had too little water and too much pollution. Traffic was a disaster. Mayor Erdogan cleaned up the city, built water facilities, as well as roads, bridges, viaducts, and tunnels. The President has always had big infrastructure dreams. Mayor Erdogan reached out to the poor of Istanbul. They stand behind President Istanbul. The poor of Anatolia stand with President Erdogan. President Erdogan is a devout Muslin. The Muslins stand with the Islamic President rather than the secular candidates. The President won because he controlled the state controlled media; little independent media is left in Turkey as hundreds of journalist are imprisoned. He won despite the presence of monitors; observers were allegedly attacked at about a quarter of the voting stations He won because Selahatin Demirtas, the Kurdish candidate, languishes in prison. The Kurd won 8.4% of the vote. His party won 67 of the Parliament’s 600 seats. However, 9 Kurdish Parliamentarians from the previous Parliament also languish in prison. President Erdogan survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The failed coup is an object lesson in how not to mount a coup. Some cynics believe the coup was actually staged by President Erdogan to solidify his power, but no evidence has surfaced to support this conspiracy theory. Over 55,000 of his opponents are Imprisoned while another 110,000 have been fired from their jobs. The newly unemployed include judges, prosecutors, police officers, and teachers. Erdogan won. So did his corrupt son. A tape was released years ago of him talking to his son about favors. Inflation won. It’s up 12.5% this year. Turkey lost. The Turks lost. President Erdogan wants to grow the economy with foreign investment. 12.5% inflation and a declining Lira will not do it. The Kurds lost; President Erdogan will continue his war against them. He declared in his victory speech that he will act decisively against terrorism. That means fighting the Kurd in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. The Kurds will fight back. Secular Islam lost. Turkey’s women lost Ataturk recognized the rights of Turkey’s women; it’s fair to say he unleashed the power of Turkey’s women. President Erdogan wants Turkish women to stay home and begat three children. The Turkish Lira continues to plunge, down 20-25% this year alone. The merchants lost. The Turkish tourist industry lost, Turkey’s workers lost. NATO lost big. Turkey is still negotiating with Russia for an aerial defense system. Erdogan is playing footsie with Russia, Turkey’s eternal enemy The EU lost. Freedom of speech and of the press, whatever smidgeon remained after the past few years, lost. Human rights and civil rights lost. He’s canned hundreds of judges and prosecutors. Fethullah Gulan lost. He remains heavily guarded in Pennsylvania as the United States continues to reject extradition The environment lost. The President loves large projects: a third airport for Istanbul, a giant mosque overlooking the Bosporus, and a grandiose palace on 50 acres in the Ataturk National Park in Ankara. He’s completing a rail tunnel under the Bosporus, connecting Europe to Asia by rail. Erdogan feels free to build his new 25 mile “canal” in Thrace, paralleling the Bosporus. A coup attempt failed in July 2016. He responded by exercising emergency powers. He imprisoned over 50,000 Turks and dismissed over 110,000 from their jobs. President Erdogan had served as Mayor of Istanbul prior to being elected Prime Minister of Turkey. He ran as a devout Muslim. He quickly became popular by taming inflation and igniting an economic boom. He favors big projects. Turkey’s military took an oath to protect the secular nation. They imprisoned him for 4 months on a 10 month sentence in 1999. He was barred from further holding political office. The Turkish military pulled coups in the past. Prime Minister Erdogan learnt from the past. The military would not stop him. He joined with the Cemaat supporters of Fethullah Gulan in defanging the Turkish military. They framed the high-ranking military officers in 2010 in the Sledgehammer and Ergenekon cases. Incriminating documents purporting to be dated 2003 were prepared on a 2007 Microsoft program. The remaining 235 suspects were acquitted in 2015, but not restored to office. President Erdogan grasped the nationalist spirit of the Turks. The Turks are a proud people with a great heritage. They justly feel they get little respect from the European countries. He is willing to stand up to the foreign governments. A combination of economic success, nationalism, and religion is tough to beat. Yet almost 48% of the voters rejected him. The great Ataturk brought Turkey into the 20th Century. Sadly, President Erdogan dreams of the Turkey of the Ottomans, a spent force by the end of the 19th Century. Nostalgia for the past is not always a plan for the future.

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