Another normal election


A month before the Nov. 1 elections, almost all commentators with liberal or left-wing tendencies made the same observation on TV. With a serious and grave expression on their faces, they said that they did not think an election could be held under the circumstances, which they thought to be an observation with foresight. According to them, an uncontrollable war is going on in Kurdish regions, people are locked in their homes, the state is imposing oppression reminiscent of the 1990s and people are forced to struggle to defend themselves. But the elections were held and the factors threatening election safety were less than in any other elections held so far. Also, the number of objections made to the outcomes dramatically decreased.

The problem is the above mentioned liberal and left-wing intelligentsias have an urge to make up a fake reality stemming from lack of knowledge and their dissidence to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). Narrating a situation they want to come true, as if it is fact, of course has some political functions. One can rouse panic in the government and cause it to give harsh responses in that way. So one's foresight can all of a sudden have a chance to come true. The AK Party, however, is a very experienced party. As a matter of fact, law enforcement officers have behaved the exact opposite way to those prevalent in the 1990s. They have abstained from conflict in most places in order not to disturb the public. They have only fired into the air when required and showed the utmost efforts to distinguish the public from terrorists. The region's people saw this new attitude from the very beginning of the incidents and shared their observations with journalists, too.

The facts of the recent period were quite different from the comments on TV. Only a week after the June 7 elections, the outlawed PKK declared a so-called revolutionary people's war and called on people to execute self-defense. Only the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), the PKK's youth wing, took to the call, while Kurds rejected to conform. Although illegal groups tried to incite people by strolling through neighborhoods, people neither joined the open-air meetings nor staged protests from their homes. Consequently, the main reason of holding the Nov. 1 elections in such a calm atmosphere is the fact that Kurds find the PKK's strategy irrational, meaningless and illegal.

This tendency to make up fake realities was naturally reflected on election expectations. For this intelligentsia, even 40 percent of the vote would have been a great success for the AK Party because, according to them, the party is in decline and there is no return from this process. In other words, the June 7 elections were regarded as the beginning of a new period. For those looking through this lens, the results of the Nov. 1 elections almost look surreal. However, when we consider the AK Party's 13 years of rule cumulatively, we can say that the actual surprise was the June 7 elections, but the vote decrease the AK Party experienced in June had three obvious causes. First of all, Kurds supporting the AK Party wanted to support the People's Democratic Party (HDP) at that time to enable the party to pass the 10 percent national election threshold, and this approach was reinforced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's discourse. Secondly, a part of the AK Party proponents did not cast ballots due to reasons such as the lack of internal harmony within the AK Party, corruption, organizational weaknesses, some weak candidates and so on. And thirdly, some AK Party proponents inclined towards the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) due to similar concerns.

The critical point is the cause of the AK Party's loss of votes in June was completely due to the AK Party itself. This result came out not because the others were good, but because the AK Party had some weaknesses. In November, the opposition was still the same and continued its poor performance. But the AK Party saw its own mistakes, was self-critical and corrected itself. Assuming that the AK Party would lose again meant expecting more mistakes from the party. Instead of correcting and improving the opposition, liberal and left-wing intellectuals labored under a delusion that the AK Party would get worse. But life necessitates being realistic.