To ensure that he wins with his party AKP, Erdogan tries to strategically dominate the media public and effectively eliminate large parts of the opposition through imprisonment. For the first time, however, an opposition has formed from various parties, including the pro-Kurdish HDP. Any chance Erdogan will be defeated in these elections?
With the elections on 7 June 2015, the AKP suffered a historic electoral defeat. More than six million people voted for HDP. The HDP united the Gezi protest movement and the heroic resistance of the YPG against the DAES gangs in Kobane. She represented all persons who rejected the policy of the AKP. Although the AKP no longer had the parliamentary majority, it continued to rule without parliamentary legitimacy through a quasi-dictatorship. Attacks in Suruc and Ankara and the beginning of the war mobilized the reactionary voices at the same time, on the other hand the opposition was weakened by massive repressions. Thus, in the second forced vote on 1 November 2015, the AKP was once again able to force the absolute majority back in its favour. It should not be forgotten, of course, that Merkel and the German bourgeoisie were demonstratively on the side of the ACP dictatorship and Reccep Tayyip Erdogan. The massive manipulation of the elections and systematic electoral fraud also played an important role.
Between the elections of 1 November 2015 and the present day, the AKP secured its rule through ever-increasing repressive means. The bombing of cities in Kurdistan, detention of members of the HDP, dismissal of people with different opinions from the public service, closure of all critical media institutions and terror on the streets were among them.
Even before the invasion of Afrin (Northern Syria/South-Western Kurdistan), there were rumours in Turkey that the new war should also serve to mobilise nationalist and reactionary voices for the AKP in order to prolong the reign of the AKP once again. Even before the invasion of Afrin, there were first signs of social disenchantment with ACP policy. War as a means of influencing the elections is one of the political means in Turkey even before the AKP and is nothing new. Following the invasion of northern Syria, many new elections have therefore been predicted. But the fact that it happened so abruptly was still surprising. That is why all forces that do not belong to the AKP speak of an “electoral attack” by the AKP dictatorship. Despite the lack of preparation time, closed television and radio stations, mass imprisonment of the opposition and the fact that the leading candidates of the HDP are in Turkish prisons, there are signs of a renewed electoral slap for the AKP. The remaining have gathered around the HDP. Veli Saçılık, Ahmet Şık, Barış Altay and many others are fighting on behalf of the detainees. They say: “We will not change social conditions with the election, because a revolution is needed for that. But we’ll make sure Erdogan doesn’t get re-elected president.” The polls speak for the opposition. Of course, it also depends on how many votes are scammed by the AKP through electoral fraud.
The elections in Turkey are generally supported, be it the powerful AKP party, the main opposition party CHP or the left-wing HDP. The majority of the left supports HDP. The socialist communist parties are involved in the HDP election campaign. Do you think the elections will lead to change in Turkey?
Between 1 November 2015 and the current elections, the opposition repeatedly had to defy the repression of the reactionary fascist AKP dictatorship. The co-chairs of the HDP, Figen Yüksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas were arrested. In Kurdistan, people were murdered in the basements and in the streets. It was important that all forces, despite the unequal balance of power and their resistance, sent a signal to all others who were unable to defend themselves. As a result of the repression, the opposition was now in a rigid situation.
Despite the short preparation time, the elections have resulted in all forces that want social change coming together and mobilising. Even forces that are actually known for boycotting the elections are engaged in the elections to give Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his reactionary-fascist AKP dictatorship a beating. To sum up, we can say that the elections have become a way of breaking free and defying the current situation.
How do the socialist and communist forces work?
The communist and socialist forces are the barricade of resistance. In the Gezi uprising, in the fight for Kobane and at many other battlefields they had a great influence on the movement with few forces. They are still active everywhere today. Without radio and television stations and news agencies, they use all their opportunities to educate the public.
Is there still a chance that Erdogan will not win the game? If so, who are his counterparts? What strategy do they pursue and what goals do they have?
It is quite possible that Erdogan could lose the elections. If it weren’t for that, he wouldn’t go head over heels in such short-term elections. The opposition’s lead would be the HDP. Of course, the HDP would be a lot stronger out of the elections if the arrested MPs were free again. It should not be forgotten that the HDP is successfully campaigning with a candidate from prison.
If the HDP can overcome the 10 percent threshold in the first round of voting, it will support the CHP with Muharrem Ince in the second round of voting. The communists/socialists within the HDP will probably not follow this course because they will not be willing to show benevolence for a greater evil. Support for the CHP would be a betrayal of its basic socialist positions, because in the past the CHP has played a decisive role in the success of the AKP, especially in tricky situations. Both the approval of the Afrin deployment and the waiver of the immunity of the HDP members of parliament were a matter of balance for the CHP.
What can we expect if the opposition, including the HDP, wins?
Of course, the fact that the ruling system will be taken over by another bourgeois force will not open the way for revolutionary development. But there will be some legal and social improvements. The hope is that the detained people will be released again. That the state of emergency will be lifted. That the Turkish military is withdrawing from Afrin. People want their political freedoms back. People also want the state to stop interfering in their lifestyle. They want to regain their fundamental rights.
It will be a very long time before the AKP’s legacy is removed. Large-scale neoliberal sales policies of state property have caused a great deal of damage that cannot be easily remedied. It will be years before the damage can be undone.
How will the election victory of the AKP affect the situation in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria and the Middle East?
If they won the elections, they would have another chance to continue their rule in the short term. But in the longer term it is in a fundamental impasse. Due to its economic success, it has gathered a part of the ruling class around itself. Now her economic decline begins and exactly the forces she has gained with money, she loses by the fact that she can no longer keep her on the bar.
It has been able to distract from its internal crisis for a short time by the Afrin war, but in the longer term it will not be able to maintain this façade. Their inner decline will be followed by the decline in foreign policy. She will have to withdraw from Afrin sooner or later. Your foster child, the DAEs will have to bite the dust first, then other AKP henchmen will follow until it is the turn of the AKP itself and its leadership clique. The end of the AKP is in sight, with or without electoral success. The defeat in the elections will of course accelerate their decline.
Can the idea of Rojava survive a Turkish autocratic state?
The democratic revolution in Rojava has shown that in the midst of fascist and reactionary dictatorships an equal, democratic and progressive life is possible. The Rojava Revolution defeated the DAES in Kobane, it stopped AKP fascism in Afrin up to a certain point. Despite the great discrepancy in the balance of power, her heroic struggle made her baptism by fire. Their presence will ensure that their ideas will take root in people’s minds. Sooner or later she will have a great influence in the Middle East.