The readers of Hürriyet Daily News and Today's Zaman, the two other English newspapers in Turkey, are presumably surprised by the local election results.
This is because these two media channels circulated manipulative survey results and news on illegal recordings with an anti-Erdoğan sentiment. More explicitly, they were the precursor of the end of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
If so, how did the AK Party win more votes than the total percentage of the main opposition parties? Secondly, how did the AK Party, which was said to polarize society, achieve a victory in all regions of Turkey, while the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy (BDP) were pushed to the Aegean coast and the southeastern region, respectively?
Thirdly, how did the AK Party ensure the confidence of the majority despite the demonizing news released by local and international media? Here are the answers to these questions:
1. In terms of service policies, the AK Party is still pursuing a unique approach. To illustrate, the party constructed new transportation routes, schools, state hospitals, courthouses, dams, giant international organization and congress centers, sports halls and 600,000 buildings with an aim to facilitate the lower classes. The AK Party carried out social welfare projects, including homecare for patients, increasing student funds 567 percent and abolishing university fees.
2. It appears the precondition of a sustainable financial system is the AK Party remaining in power. Turkey once ran into debt followed by high inflation and unemployment under the rule of unsustainable coalition governments and the military powers. Now, it is the sixth and 16th biggest economy of Europe and the world, respectively. There are no opposition parties with a history of such a notable success rate. They cannot even show any promise to maintain the current conditions in the future.
3. The AK Party took other actions that created a social psychology integrated with national pride in the ruling party, such as negotiations on visa-free travel to the EU, the Marmaray project, construction of the third Bosporus Bridge and new airports, energy agreements with tremendous impact, production of national defense technologies and being the fourth-largest donor of humanitarian assistance.
4. Through new reforms, the party drew support from the Kurdish community, non-Muslims, women who wear the hijab, religious individuals and Romanis along with many other vulnerable groups.
5. It is also important to discuss the question of, "Why does the AK Party win?" along with the question of, "Why does the CHP lose?" This is because the main opposition did not bring economic gains, services and vulnerable people into the focus of election campaigns.
The CHP's election rallies took place with the intention of toppling Erdoğan. The main opposition was unable to give hope and a promise of a brighter future. In other words, neither the CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu nor the other CHP members could create any vision of Turkey without Erdoğan.
6. The history of Turkey is dotted with political rulers unseated by the military or corruption accusations with the support of the media, capitalists, and the judiciary. Therefore, shaping politics through corruption allegations is not new for Turkey. The police operations and illegal wiretaps before the election attempted to unseat the AK Party through monkey business rather than leading Turkey to clean politics. The credibility of Erdoğan outweighed the triangle of "tape-montage-blackmail."
7. Finally, Erdoğan became a phenomenon.
From the beginning of the Gezi protests, Erdoğan was regarded an unwanted leader by some; however, the opposition was unable to unseat him. There is no other leader equal to Erdoğan, not only in Turkish politics but also within the AK Party. In addition to the lack of vision among the opposition parties, the lack of leadership does not seem to be easily addressed.
About the author
Hilal Kaplan is a journalist and columnist. Kaplan is also board member of TRT, the national public broadcaster of Turkey.