You will probably read a variety of reviews on the March 30 local elections, however, they have one point in common: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the decisive victor.
In light of the fact that opposition parties and Gülenists focused on attempting to unseat Erdoğan, the local election race passed much like a referendum for the prime minister's political future. Despite opposition parties renouncing him as a dictator, thief and even murderer, Erdoğan triumphed over them to such an extent that the nationwide combined votes of two opposition parties was still below the AK Party's total votes.
There's no doubt that the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) came out as the other winner of the municipal elections. The BDP won three metropolitan municipalities followed by eight provincial municipalities.
They are clearly appreciated across the southeastern region of Turkey. Yet still, the AK Party's total vote surpassed the BDP's in the territory with fierce competition. The BDP has no small task ahead of it. The public interest towards the AK Party and the BDP, the two main actors in the reconciliation process with the Kurds, demonstrates the Turkish people's enthusiastic support of the process.
On the other hand, the Republican People's Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Gülenists came out the definite losers. As mentioned before, since you are going to read various reviews about the local polls, I would like to concentrate on another "loser" of the elections: the foreign analysts of Turkey.
These analysts have hit the buffers since the Gezi protests and increasingly after the Dec. 17 operation. They had a tendency to examine Turkey from one side, sinking into anti-Erdoğan sentiment rather than balanced discussions, and were stone blind to the attitudes and reflexes of the rest of Turkey since they are demographically close to the opposition. Either they were unable to predict that Erdoğan would triumph the election by such a landslide, or they advocated that even if he won, his "legitimacy" was over. But, the result of the elections revealed that the people were questioning the legitimacy of the Gülenist oligarchy that endeavored to design politics with "tapes and montages" rather than that of the ruling party.
One week before the local race, I wrote the following: "Provided that you do not possess an essentialist or racist attitude toward Turkey, you would have to accept that, like in any other society, the people of Turkey perceive corruption to be a serious felony. If so, how come the AK Party is still the leading party in all polls conducted ahead of the March 30 elections? A significant segment of the Turkish public sees the illegal structures that the foreign media persistently chooses to ignore and chooses to support a legitimate government in the struggle against this shady structure. This is a message for those who announce the end of Erdoğan by confusing 'analysis' with 'wishful thinking.' " The results appear to support this analysis.
Therefore, it is now necessary to question the rationality of the cliches referred to by almost all foreign press until now.
It is also important to pay heed to those journalists who saythat it is not possible to define as an "authoritarian leader" one who is so far from dominating the state that all his telephones are tapped and calls leaked, 70 percent of media outlets oppose him, Turkey's most circulated newspaper is able to insult him saying "the people will spit on his grave." Also, the AK Party is not straying from its reformist base, on the contrary, AK Party and its base are the only ones displaying the most liberal approach far from nationalism from the Kurdish issue to the rights of non-Muslims and, therefore, the reconciliation process with the PKK was started by Erdoğan.
If this article is read as a call for selfcriticism by the foreign analysts of Turkey, I believe it will make perfect sense.
About the author
Hilal Kaplan is a journalist and columnist. Kaplan is also board member of TRT, the national public broadcaster of Turkey.