The dramatic end in the opposition’s performance

Tarafların masaya oturması, onların mutlaka ve bir kerede masadan müspet neticeyle kalkmalarını garanti etmez. Süreçlerde kırılmalar, yavaşlamalar, çökmeler olur. Hüner, bu olumsuz gelişmeler karşısında dahi süreci savunmak.

The spectacular decline and subsequent increase of votes for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the last two elections naturally upset the balance of the opposition. In psychological terms, it seems that a small number of people awoke from a dream and were normalized by moving away from a militant approach. However, the majority of the secular and left-wing stratum still helplessly hopes the fight will go on.


For them, this is conceivable by of the AK Party's going astray, as exhibited by its limiting of freedoms and attempting to provoke religious tendencies in society, among others. In such cases, it is possible to condemn and discredit the AK Party in the light of universal norms and to assert that the latest election outcomes are illegitimate. Consequently, the opposition will spend the following four years detecting the AK Party's mistakes, creating some "mistakes" through news stories based on fabricated or deficient sources and complaining about the AK Party to the West.


The interesting part is that the opposition seemingly cannot understand that this very approach is a considerable factor in the AK Party's election success. Vahap Coşkun clearly depicted the background to the situation in one of his articles. Since 2013, members and leaders of the AK Party have been declared traitors and thieves, with their leader called dictatorial. Initiating the reconciliation process and maintaining it despite PKK exploitation was considered to be treacherous, particularly by a part of the Republican People's Party's (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) bases and a large part of the bureaucracy.


The Gezi Park protests were popularized and valorized due to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's strict attitude as prime minister, although about 80 AK Party offices and hundreds of public and private vehicles, including ambulances, were set on fire. Meanwhile, the disastrous atmosphere caused by Western support of the coup in Egypt was not taken into account and Erdoğan was ultimately declared a dictator. The Dec. 15 and Dec. 25 operations launched by pro-Gülenists in the judicial system also tried to label then Prime Minister Erdoğan a thief. The secular and left-wing stratum backed up the charges of dictatorship and theft against Erdoğan and saw it as an opportunity to overthrow the government. Parallel to this, about 3,000 foreign journalists based in Turkey reported the news to the Western public under the influence of this attack.


But there was a problem. All the information was largely subjective, purposeful and motivated with a specific political aim. The majority of society saw the incidents through a much more objective lens and observed that the opposition's strategy solely aimed to overthrow the government. The stories covered in the Western media distorted the facts and contributed to contextualizing this picture in a more co-conspiratorial framework. Increasing numbers of people started to think that we were confronted with a coalition that wanted the Egyptian example to ensue in Turkey.


Consequently, the AK Party retained its support despite its mistakes and the synergy around the leader was solidified. Also, putting the entire burden on the shoulders of the government weakened the apparatus of criticism in the AK Party, and this was perceived as a struggle to stand up in politics. Although it still received the most votes of any party, the AK Party's vote share at first declined since the opposition acted somewhat rationally and the AK Party and Erdoğan blundered during the first half of 2015. However, over the five months following the June 7 elections, the opposition began acting irrationally and the AK Party moved away from its previous mistakes. So eventually the party won back the vote share it had earned before.


The main actors over the last three years were those who wanted to overthrow the AK Party. They controlled the political scene and strived to get into power, but did not succeed. Conversely, they were pushed to the margins of the political scene as the motivations for their actions became visible. The political balance will change in following four years and the consensus within the AK Party will play a more important role than its relations with the opposition.