At least Turks have the right to choose despite the biased media and all the political oppression. It is pleasing and important news when it is compared to countries where elections have a predetermined result. For instance, Vladimir Putin of Russia would not face such a surprising result in his country. Bashar Assad would not face a result like this by any means. However, today Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is definitely facing a surprising result.
Michael Thumann, a columnist for the German die Zeit newspaper, wrote these sentences; they directly reflect what German media and the German community think about Turkey. Thumann's need for making comparisons is a clear indicator of the level of the unfortunate anti-Erdoğan stance of both German media and Western countries.
In his article, Thumann tells the German community that the situation in Turkey is not as bad as they think and at least elections are taking place. This explanation by Thumann is an important manifestation of newly rising anti-Erdoğan paranoia in Western countries. But the Western media and political elites that insist on ignoring the sociological foundations of Erdoğan in Turkish society, also turned a blind eye to some of the chronic problems in Turkey during the '90s and introduced Turkey as a democratic and progressive ally for the West despite the political and military oppression against Turkish society at the time.
We did not hear anything about military interventions, headscarf bans and unsolved murders by the European community in those days. Western politicians are trying to show political extensions of the status quo of the '90s as an alternative to Kurdish people, and this is a clear indicator about Westerners' inability to understand the social dynamics of Turkey. German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth visited Meral Akşener, the chairwoman of the Good Party (İP), last year, and he said that they would closely watch the elections in June 24.
Roth also mentioned that the Kurdish people that are stuck between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) are going to support the İP according to their predictions. Kurdish voters who heard this statement could not even understand if this was irony. The West's failure to understand social dynamics in Turkey makes them think that a politician like Akşener, who had earned the antipathy of Kurdish people during her time at the Interior Ministry, can be an alternative, in Kurdish eyes, to a leader like Erdoğan who had removed barriers to the use of the Kurdish language, established Kurdology institutes in universities and established a Kurdish TV channel for democratic progress.
One of the most important things about this election, which was ignored or distorted by the European media, is that Kurdish people in eastern and southeastern provinces of Turkey buried the HDP at the ballot box. This means that the people directly related to the Kurdish issue chose the AK Party; thus, the AK Party won provinces like Muş, Ağrı, Bitlis and even Şırnak that were perceived as HDP strongholds. This is not the first time Kurdish voters have overtly supported Erdoğan. Kurdish voters cast more than the expected number of "Yes" votes in the constitutional amendment referendum, which brought the presidential government system to Turkey.
European media interpreted the election results as support from Kurdish voters for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) in Istanbul, but this interpretation cripples the truth. The CHP won the elections in districts like Esenyurt and Küçükçekmece where an immense number of Kurdish people reside, but Kurdish people are also densely populated in districts like Bağcılar, Sultanbeyli, Sancaktepe and Gaziosmanpaşa, and the AK Party won these four districts. European media always claim that Turkey is pretty much in an ethnic war; the results of this election clearly prove that this idea is totally biased and solely based on marginal leftist sources.
The post-election stance
Discussions about the impartial stance of government institutions in Turkey, especially the Supreme Election Council (YSK), in European media, faded away with the election victories of the main opposition party in some metropolitan areas. It is also clear that these results were welcomed with huge amusement by the Western media. This was a tailor-made example of how Western media outlets create a negative perception of Turkey and its elected government. This exclusion rhetoric by the European media stirs up the anti-Turkish position in the European community and makes the anti-Turkey stance a source of internal political gain.
If the outcome of these elections were in favor of the governing party of Turkey, it is highly probable that we would see direct and indirect criticism about the transparency of the election process. Eventually, it is not logical to expect correct interpretations about Turkey from media outlets that have no clue about the sociology and recent history of Turkey. Interstate affairs are too important to sacrifice to daily political agendas. The results of local Turkish elections stand as important news to re-evaluate Turkey's image in the European community's mind. Turkish voters are able to give the AK Party the first spot in the local elections, while casting their votes for the opposition in some metropolitan areas. These results stand as obvious evidence of how democratic processes functions flawlessly in Turkey and the faith of Turkish society in democracy.
* Op-ed contributor based in Germany