Presidential elections in Turkey are ominous. Our history is full of striking examples of elections turning into regime crises. In the first presidential election after the May 27, 1960 coup, two soldiers put a gun to the head of presidential candidate Ali Fuat Başgil and ordered him to withdraw his candidacy.
About 20 years later, right before the Sep. 12 coup, the presidential elections turned into a political crisis as a president had still not been elected despite numerous sessions, resulting in a military coup. These are fairly recent examples.
In the presidential election held in 2007, Turkey dealt with serious issues out in the open. Political murders were committed.
Yaşar Büyükanıt, then-chief of defense, announced the military wanted a president who is secular not in words but in deeds. An ememorandum was given to the government on April 27, which was a clear interference in politics. These were illegitimate political interferences.
During those days, the anger of the AK Party opposition groups echoed from the streets. Millions poured to the streets against the government and rallies were held.
With the 367 court ruling, the Parliament was not allowed to elect a president and Turkey went into early election.
With the plebiscite held not long after, it was decided that presidents would no longer be elected in Parliament but by the people.
The purpose was to prevent extra-political interferences that turned elections into crises.
What we are seeing today is that this formula of people electing the president is insufficient to keep out interferences in politics. The pressures that were put on the assembly to affect acts of the Parliament are now directed at the public through social perception engineering.
Recently, Turkey faced two occurrences of perception engineering targeted at the upcoming presidential elections. The first was activated during the Gezi events, which had comprehensible environmental and sociological truths behind them. The protests, which began as democratic demands for rights, turned into a spiral of violence overshadowing the upcoming elections of 2014. The intention was to portray Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as authoritarian, which is directly correlated with the expectance of his candidacy for the presidential elections.
Right when the Gezi events had blown over, Turkey then faced the perfectly timed attempted judicial coup of Dec. 17. This was the second attempt of perception engineering to affect the upcoming presidential elections.
Files consisting of two years of illegal wiretappings were brought to the fore three months before the local elections by the courts under the pretense of corruption. It was not only sensational operations or arrests, but illegal wiretappings were leaked to the press every other day.
The attempt to portray an image of authoritarianism and corruption carries the purpose of trying to shape the presidential elections in August this year. The first signs of how much this perception engineering is accepted by the public will emerge after the local elections in March. The chemistry of the local elections has therefore changed. These elections are a psychological threshold for the presidential elections in August.