Miracles and authoritarianization

Despite the AK Party's mistakes and introverted attitudes caused by various fears, the party will continue to receive more of the vote than the total vote rates of the two main opposition parties

Westerners also believe in miracles now. The objective, scientific and possessed perspective introduced after the Enlightenment seems to have disappeared. Particularly, approaches to Turkey clearly demonstrate this sad condition. Many Western media outlets and politicians can argue with a serious posture that votes for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) would decline and a coalition of the Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) would be a realistic alternative to the AK Party following elections. But a miracle has already happened in Turkey thanks to its social base. We are going to live in this miracle for a long time now. Despite the AK Party's mistakes and introverted attitudes caused by various fears, the party will continue to receive more of the vote than the total vote rates of the two main opposition parties. It will be victorious not only in the upcoming elections, but also in the 2019 elections. And if the opposition maintains its expectations of an irrational miracle that displays its own despair, the AK Party will also win the 2023 elections, because Turkey is experiencing a sociological transformation that transcends the AK Party. And the AK Party's secret consists of taking the pulse of this transformation and adapting to it.

While doing this, the ruling party naturally tries to maximize its own institutional power. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is benefiting from polarizations to keep the increasingly varied base together. He engages in polemics regarding the Central Bank, since he knows that such a complex structure can only be kept together in a growing economy. Meanwhile, since he believes that the bureaucracy's resistance can only be handled with a presidential system, he also emphasizes the requirement of this system on every occasion. Besides, since both the AK Party and anti-AK Party groups feel that the country is at a sharp turning point, a tense atmosphere of conflict has emerged and the government does not abstain from taking authoritarian measures.

All in all, everyone observes that the government occasionally employs some authoritarian methods and rhetoric. Field studies show that the AK Party base is also aware of it and does not favor it, either. However, they do not think so differently from the party when it comes to the reasons for the party's authoritarianization, and they strongly believe that the AK Party is under threat. Consequently, even though the AK Party occasionally uses some methods that do not seem right, it is a common opinion among the base that the party uses such methods out of compulsion. This situation changes the meaning of the thesis of authoritarianization. Anti-AK Party groups and the West assert that the ruling power has become increasingly authoritarian to completely silence the opposition. Unfortunately, this is a naive perspective. It is an approach that neither has a good grasp of Turkish society nor understands the diversities and power balances within the AK Party.

Truthfully, the AK Party uses authoritarianization completely in line with pragmatic goals and tactical aims. The steps taken during such a trend are not fully believed and thus can be easily rescinded, which does not bother anyone in the party. The experiences have created a feeling of legitimacy by the AK Party and its base. It is a common perception that the party's authoritarian dispositions are not permanent, and they actually contradict the party's own principles, but that they have become inevitable at this juncture.

Erdoğan succeeded in settling this opinion among his voter base and he mostly used what the West said and did in this regard. Still, criticism from the West often reflects a great deal of ignorance and/or a lack of goodwill. When Erdoğan tells the public about all the Western criticism by contextualizing it over the last 15 years in Turkey, extra propaganda is not needed at all. Voters stick to the miracle they have and rationalize some practices and discourses they do not approve of with some realistic findings and observations.