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Erdogan re-elected
Article added on June 12, 2011 at 21:19 Swiss time, details added at 21:48
  
The 2011 election

The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (*1954) has been re-elected today. Opinion polls showed before the election that his Justice and Development Party (AKP) would win a clear majority in the unicameral Grand National Assembly of Turkey
.

With 98% of the ballots of the June 12, 2011 parliamentary election counted, the AKP won 50% of the vote, the CHP 26% and the MHP 13%. The Kurds will probably manage to reach parliamentary party status. The AKP would win some 326 seats in the 550-seat parliament, therefore falling short of the two-thirds majority needed to amend the country's (military-made) constitution without the help of other members of parliament.

Not only
because of its high national threshold of 10%, only three parties were expected to enter parliament. For independents, the 10% threshold of the vote only applies to the constituency they stand for. Therefore, many smaller parties present their candidates as independents, e.g. the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

In the 2007 election for the Turkish Grand National Assembly with its 550 seats,  the conservative-Islamic AKP won a clear absolute majority with 341 mandates. The center-left Republican People's Party (CHP) came in second with 112 seats. The nationalist MHP garnered 71 seats. Independents managed to win 26 seats. In 2007, the ruling AKP received 39% of the vote, the CHP 23% and the MHP 16%.

In 2011, some 52.5 million voters - out of a total population of 74 million - were called to the polls. This number includes some 50 million Turks residing in Turkey as well as some 2.5 million Turks living abroad.

7,695 candidates (including independents) representing fifteen political parties were contesting the 2011 parliamentary election.

The polls closed at 5pm Turkish time. Turkey has no exit polls as well as a ban on reporting outcomes until 9pm local time. By midnight, the approximate results should become clear. The official results are not expected to be published before June 19.



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AKP achievement and failures

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been serving as Turkey's prime minister since March 2003. His party, the AKP, founded in 2001, first won a majority in the 2002 parliamentary election.

On the positive side of almost 10 years of AKP rule first stand the political stability - the longest since the Menderes government in the 1950s - and the great economic development: Turkey's GDP per capita has tripled in a decade! The country has joined the G20. The growth rate was 8.9% in 2010. The middle class is growing. Turkey is moving closer towards EU-compatibility. Programs in the Kurdish language are broadcast on the state TV channel TRT. Rape inside marriage has become a criminal offence. Erdogan has managed to create a reformist Islamic party instead of an Islamist party feared by many. There is no Iranian-style theocratic rule in Turkey. Erdogan's party has five million followers, a strong party base as well as a strong electoral mandate; followers and voters think that their aspirations have been taken seriously. The AKP has improved Turkey's infrastructure: roads, the railway system, hospitals, schools, power plants, etc. Erdogan has ended the military rule. The times of military oversight and paternalism, with generals ready to intervene militarily, seems over. Erdogan rightly attacked the Kemalists of the CHP who had nothing but a no to Europe to offer. A potential danger is that one day Erdogan may be tempted to replace the military rule by an equally intolerant AKP rule. That's one of the negative sides of the Erdogan grip on power.

Erdogan has the tendency to take criticism personally. The AKP regime has critics censored or even put in jail; some 70 journalists are currently in jail, mainly because they had been doing their job. Artists, intellectuals and the media are under pressure from the political power. Books and the internet still get censored. In addition, Erdogan is well-known for populist outbursts and strong language.

Erdogan still has not acknowledged the early 20th century Armenian genocide. Just before the 2011-election, the prime minister personally ordered to have the giant Statue of Humanity in Kars, a monument dedicated to the Armenian-Turkish friendship, destroyed. In 2007, Erdogan said that the Kurdish problem was also his problem. By 2011, he seemed to have changed his mind. That's why he did not get the Kurdish vote in today's election again; the Kurdish population is estimated at around 14 million (overall population in Turkey: 74 million).

Corruption and nepotism, a major concern also under  previous regimes, is still flourishing under Erdogan and the AKP. Turkey needs a more decentralized political structure. To break down the corrupt and inflexible “Kemalist” military and justice system was right. However, the judiciary still needs to become more independent.

Erdogan has established Turkey as a major regional power. He calmed relations with Turkey's neighbors. Backlashes include Israel and Syria. In both cases, Turkey is not the (main) culprit for the new strains. Israel started a dubious Gaza war and then killed “peace activists” or “agitators” (according to the perspective of the observer) on a Turkish boat in international waters; a clearly illegal action. Assad in Syria is ruthlessly killing his own people in his desperate attempt to cling on to power. In both cases, Erdogan had to condemn the activities of his regional neighbors. Nevertheless, not only because of Turkey's economic success, Erdogan and his country have become a major regional voice and force. But together with Ahmet Davutoglu (*1959), Turkey's minister of foreign affairs, Erdogan occasionally suffers from delusions of grandeur, baptized neo-Ottomanism.

However, not everything on the economic front is bright. The unemployment rate is around 12%. In May 2011, the annualized inflation rate stood at 7.2%. The 2011-budget deficit may reach 5.4% of GDP. Luckily, the public debt is below 50% and the financial sector is said to be robust.

Erdogan and the AKP would like to change the constitution, including the institutions and their balance of power. Erdogan is dreaming of a presidential regime. Therefore, his 2011 electoral goal was a two-thirds majority, which would have allowed him to decide on the new constitution without having to compromise with the opposition (although the Kemalists do not seem to be keen on compromising anyway, holding on - for now - to the military-made constitution). Erdogan has already managed to get rid of the military's grip on power. It remains to be seen how he envisages the new constitution in detail.

I only know the greater Istanbul area. The city offers everything from decadence to bigotry: a 21st century Western living style, a 21st century version of Islam, more traditional Islamic lifestyles as well as all shades and combinations of the above, even in the same street. In 2009, a friend showed me around a very traditional Mosque. In the street next to it, we came across a young woman in a miniskirt. At least as long as the economy is booming, the different world's coexist peacefully.

Turkey has already lived through phases of modernization in the past. In 1926, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk adopted for instance almost entirely the Swiss civil code (Zivilgesetzbuch, drafted by Eugen Huber).

Erdogan and the AKP have moved Turkey closer to a fully functioning democracy. The glass may still be half full. But unlike previous leaders close to the military, Erdogan and the AKP have delivered a lot. Like most other democratic leaders who have governed for too long, he overrates himself. Caesar's madness is not far. Autocratic reflexes could be observed too many times already. He should soon hand over power to someone new. In addition, it is up to the opposition to come up with a credible alternative.


Erdogan and his AKP targeted the Turkish community in Germany, the largest Turkish community abroad. Here an ad for Erdogan's appearance in Düsseldorf in February 2011.





Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
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© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.