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Melih Altınok

WAS ERDOĞAN'S ELECTION VICTORY A MIRACLE?

Melih Altınok 03 April 2014, Thursday
The AK Party, with Tayyip Erdoğan as its leader, came in first place in the local elections by increasing its votes from 39 percent in the 2009 local elections to 45 percent in this round.

The AK Party won 49 of the mayoral positions of 81 cities in Turkey. The number of votes the party secured - approximately 18 million - is equal to the total number of votes of the three opposition parties. Then how is it that the AK Party was able to consistently increase its votes in the past eight elections when it could have just as easily lost votes after 12 years of rule and the risk of being worn out? Moreover, why have the opposition parties constantly lost votes when they were in an election alliance?

The reason is, of course, not a miracle or anything like it. The first reason for Erdoğan's success is that he instills hope in the Turkish people - the majority of which is young. The AK Party offers voters development, democracy, peace and integration with the modern world through positive language regarding its short- and long-term goals. The solid steps Erdoğan took during his party's 12-year rule gave voters security for the future. For instance, Erdoğan's governments took some brave steps regarding the Kurdish conflict, which has a 100-year-old history and caused the loss of 50,000 lives in the last 30 years. Ever since Prime Minister Erdoğan announced the resolution process with the Kurds, there hasn't been a single clash.

Turkey was under military tutelage just five to 10 years ago and now it is a more civilized and democratic country thanks to the democratization package and reforms being implemented.

What garnered the AK Party more votes from the outside was that it didn't only look out for its conservative base but also for the leftists, Kurds and outsiders. The AK Party is the only party that managed to receive votes from every corner of the country thanks to its comprehensive policies that reach out to all demographic sectors of the country.

Another reason for Erdoğan's success is his fruitful economic policies that aim to protect the disadvantaged circles and expand the middle class. In the last 10 years, Turkey has found its place among the biggest economies of the world.

The country's income gap decreased and per capita income rose from $3,000 to over $10,000.

With social policies aimed mainly at the poor such as huge housing projects, education subsidies and public transportation, Erdoğan's efforts were a sort of revolution for Turkey.

Unfortunately, Turkish opposition parties are unable to even replicate the well-known reasons for Erdoğan's election victory. They are hoping to gain power not through the support of voters but through the army or the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, just like it used to be. Since they do not see voters as needing persuasion, they just create cyber threats and aim to get block votes. They don't promise voters a democratic country moving towards a bright future but the old Turkey in darkness. They consider reforms such as the EU projects, global integration and peace with the Kurds as acts of separation.

The result of these conflicts is simply tragicomic because many leftist voters, myself included, are expecting the opposition to ensure more freedom, democracy and peace than the AK Party.

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