A good old Ottoman wallop

We had previously utilized this title at the weekly Agos with regard to the outcome of the 2010 constitutional referendum. It was intended to express the way civil society had transcended the sterility of short-term politics to lay a claim on its own future. Today we have once more come to the same point. Over the last few weeks I have repeatedly noted in this column that those sections of society in the tight grip of identity politics amount to no more than 70 percent or thereabouts, while the rest are taking their cue from the AKP. In other words, for this group it is what the AKP is actually doing or not doing that matters. They come to make up their minds on the AKP’s rights or wrongs, and decide to support it or not on that basis.  


Hence in these elections it all boiled down to this: Seen from the perspective of this section of flexible and mobile voters, there clearly was an AKP that was behaving in a relatively more proper way. It was obvious that this trend alone was going to carry the AKP up its sociologically “normal” level of around 45 percent. There was, however, one additional factor. A development whose impact on voter preferences we couldn’t really estimate: From the point of view of the same flexible section of the electorate, it was equally clear the MHP and the HDP had behaved in a relatively much more improper way. But it was not really possible to say if this would be reflected in any ballot shift, for the fact that these voters had previously voted for a different party might now make it more difficult for them to go back to the AKP. To put it in another way, we didn’t know what kind of “psychological threshold” voters formerly alienated by the AKP would have to cross if they wanted to return.   


Now, however, what the election results tell us is that this is not a very high “threshold.” At least a third of Turkish society is capable of behaving in extremely rational and common sense fashion, and it is this group that decides who is to govern. As long as the other parties continue to behave in such utterly unwise fashion, that section of the electorate that attaches prime value to any degree of sagacity or discernment is bound to take its cue from the AKP, to support it whenever it sees the AKP as taking the correct path, and to administer an old fashioned Ottoman wallop to those who beyond their ideological fantasies have no real societal project to speak of. 



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