Istanbul election: Is Erdogan's AKP losing its grip over Turkey? | Quadriga

Istanbul election: Is Erdogan's AKP losing its grip over Turkey? | Quadriga



hello and welcome to quadriga DWS international talk show coming to you from Berlin I'm Brian Thomas there's been a seismic political shift in Turkey where the opposition CHP party has won the vote for mayor in Turkey's biggest city and financial capital Istanbul this man Akram M Imola has called his victory a new beginning for the country one of his fellow party leader says it is now time to end President Aaron's quote one-man regime and build a democratic system days after the vote air Dhawan himself promised to draw lessons from it saying he understood the messages given by the people Turkey is air Diwan losing his grip that's our topic here on quadri gonna talk about that I'm joined here in the studio by shadi Oates Damir he works for DWS Turkish Department and says a great moment for Turkish democracy but the real struggle has only begun Allen Posner is a commentator for the day LED belt he believes air Diwan has lost the trust of the educated lease but he is far from finished and Laura Lala kvass is an analyst for Turkish politics for the Berlin based think tank German Council on Foreign Relations she thinks quote the result of the local election since us full and other metropolitan cities indicate a shift in political conditions in Turkey well thanks to all of you for being here and thanks to our viewers from wherever you are as well Laura if we could start with you what's happening in Turkey and what are the voters in Istanbul saying right now well I think what we've seen in the municipal elections not just in Istanbul but also already in March is that the AKP is losing its grip especially in the big cities in Turkey the cities that you know obviously have regular population there are the economic centers of Turkey and Istanbul especially obviously was you know really important for the opposition to win before the AKP obviously a very hurtful loss and I think what we see is that first of all the opposition which is different fractions of people actually could unite around this idea of saying you know kind of like we are united against the system for against this like one-man regime at the same time we also see that you know more and more supporters of the AKP in the mayor happy coalition actually disappointed in the government and also themselves not turning out to vote as much as they did before maybe some shifted disappoints the disappointment in the AKP might be an understatement Charlotte what do you think triggered this result I think it has multiple factors obviously and economy conditions has always been one of the dominant forces economies very big and and and in Turkey if we look at the breaking points when it when were talking about the similar seismic shifts in the political environment in Turkey over the past 50 years we always see the economy as one of the most important underlying causes of that so when the public when when the people on the street are having a problem with take bringing the bread at home they are looking for alternatives and like this course might be a good driving force or other political factors might be good good driving forces but at the end of the day economics and and the way that people can make an earning makes a decision and I think one of the main reasons why people decided to jump off the boat right now is because of the political economic situation in the country economics is so determined in a vote especially one like this for a city like Istanbul for big cities Allen when you look at this is it just the economics of the background to this vote or is it also aired on potentially losing his political instincts I mean he's the one who called for this rerun vote right and that was a huge mistake because the first time his party lost I think by thirteen thousand votes now they lost by eight hundred yeah a teeth out there i'm een in cry and people you know put off the holidays to be there and to be able to vote or came back from their holidays or from from from wherever they were to vote against other one so this is this is a huge huge huge miscalculation and and so people with but in spite of this if you look at the map of survey IDI the the sort of election map of Turkey and you say that the CHP is red you got a red rim the part of Turkey that tourists see you know assemble Izmir down there Antalya and so and they're all there were Western looking people educated people people have to do with tourism are situated they voted against add-on but the huge inside except for Ankara is still power base I mean where the the rural areas you know the poor parts of the country the religious parts of the country people were Sunni religious is very strong they still vote for the AKP and and unless you can bridge that gap turkeys gonna fall apart as it has so often before we're going to talk about bridging that gap and that divide coming up in in the program I'd like to go back to Laura and what you were saying about the AKP there is talk right now of a split in the governing party in the AKP do you think that's a possibility well I mean rooms have been going on for quite a while now that's you know prominent figures within the AKP like Ali Baba John or you know devil total and after law school are considering forming their own movements that when party of splitting away from the AKP and I think you know if that's the case if we will see that the election has made that probably more likely that they will see this like as an opportunity now to like kind of move forward with with such ambitions and there has been a you know kind of differences in opinion within the AKP for quite a while and we've seen much more criticism coming out of out of the AKP itself Charro's do you think that is something everyone's struggling with right now keeping the party together I totally agree with this point of view because Ireland has already been losing the people that he started his own cause of it when he formed the AKP back in the beginning of 2000's so the figures like Alibaba John opted lucky I made turbo told blend arranged and so on and so forth these figures were belonging to their cause at that cause was kind of actually bringing together the conservative masses with the central right leaning people in Turkey and the AKP has always been a coalition of different center-right forces or sometimes to an extreme right but those forces in Turkey so its base never represented as some sort of a political Islam that is being depicted all the time and once that coalition starts to shatter and I'm where I want to go back to the economy and economy what is one of the reasons why it would shatter then you might start seeing those movements coming within from within the party and if you if you add the fact that Ireland has managed to antagonize the people that he started with and he surrounded himself with a bunch of yes-man over the past few years then he started losing his grip so it actually now based his the whole party is based on his charisma and nothing else because they are not producing in a sort of policies over the past five years okay so you're saying there is a possibility that he could lose his grip on power would that mean from what I'm hearing is there's a possibility that he could be replaced by a broader conservative coalition would that get a majority in the country I don't think so and I don't think he would lose his grip within his own party but his own party eventually might lose its grip over the over the government so like you know if we go to an election sometime soon it's not going to happen before 2022 – at least on this there's a early election called then the AKP might not be able to secure a majority within the Parliament but that's far ahead but I think I think we should focus on right now how his party will manage to survive this all yeah that's experiencing right now that's related to the vote and the economy well there is a consensus right now that this vote was free and fair and as Alan was pointing out it's also pointed out that there's a deep divide in Turkish society between conservative voters mainly in the countryside and the more liberal voters in urban areas I'm so excited the right person has won justice has won love and unity one the people in Istanbul have won everything is great now we will work for a brighter future together shoulder to shoulder really I'm so happy change was necessary people had enough of the incumbent government turkey needs fresh blood new rhetoric and a new face I think this result is a reflection of that I think people don't see the good things tie affair to one has done we're all said our relatives came here from other cities just for today no we're so disappointed the government mustn't allow him to serve his mayor okay we just heard one AKP voter they're saying the government should step in and overturn the popular vote that was the last soundbite we listen to how deeper the divisions between AKP voters and the opposition shot up I think the way that the government has been playing this whole blame game over the past few years because of the negativity negative things going on in the country that has a resonance within within the you know party supporters within the masses but I think that resonance is no longer as valid as it used to be so of course there's this polarization of course there's this divide within the society and I think what a cream Imam all the did just for the municipality but it's a big discourse and that discourse is based on not polarization but having a comprehensive approach trying to reach out to everyone and I think it turned out to be a good strategy because we're seeing that like they from a few thousand watts we have hundreds of thousands of what difference in just three weeks later that means that there is a huge shift from the AKP from the people who voted for the AKP candidate and then shifted to Imam all so turkey is actually very tired of this polarized language there were eight election in the country over the past six years can you imagine that almost one election including local elections and referendums so people are tired of elections and you cannot do business when you're in a election environment we were waiting for what's gonna happen after the elections and as you are tired from that kind of a environment and as you're tired from that kind of a political division and polarization then you start shifting to a person who's giving you hope and even want to manage to actually gather the hope of so many people and I think is gonna be over time more successful as he will continue playing this game because they managed to find a good strategy and they are developing them and there it's just the beginning for them but it's gonna be a long and hard way to go and challenge the government itself Allen when you hear about this type of political strategy do you think it could be a winner to bring a country together you know I I really don't know know enough about CHP and and Emmylou to to to judge that but all I'm saying is everyone anticipated this this is why he changed the system so we now have a presidential system if he was just you know Prime Minister or of Turkey in like in like Theresa May in Britain you know he could you know he might be out tomorrow but as a president he's in also don't forget that you know there are hundreds if not thousands of journalists in jail of teachers of people accused of being members of the Gulen sect and before that there are some people in jail who he together with Gulen he got rid of out of the military and so on so he does he I mean I really wouldn't underestimate Godwin's power he may have lost the mass of people in in in Istanbul and Ankara and Izmir but he has as long as the military is still behind him when he's purged the military as long as he's the president you know I the question is can a mamola and the CHP and the opposition keep up this momentum but across the country the real question should be like in Turkey potentially would power shift hands in a peaceful transformation I think that should be the question that needs to be asked because as said and you're right in that the whole system is now structured in a way that our dog keeps his grip over the country which is very less stable in fact it is less stable politically economically internationally it is less stable but at the same time as I was saying the whole system is actually kind of keeping him as in power and this like like I was trying to say earlier turkey the Turkish government did not develop a viable policy a policy that a state needs to address to the needs of its population in the past five six years so the whole system is based actually designed actually upon keeping a personality on power and that is one of the weakest point but at the same time that is one of the strongest point of the opposition not to be and not to be underestimated either I mean that's at the same time a house of cards it's a house of cards but we have to look at this base that that Ellen pointed out is strongly behind air21 I mean when you when you look at the numbers 45% of Istanbul voted against mmm Oh Lu I mean that that's an important point in and for the AKP Skanda d't how do they view Laura where they want the country headed this 45% in Istanbul not in the conservative areas out in the countryside where do they want to see the country headed well I think first of all I would say you know Istanbul also has very conservative area so it wouldn't kind of make this distinction just like say it's the liberal Istanbul and the conservative course is light yeah and I think so I think for for lots of people that are still the belief in the president and that our lawn can deliver they there's a belief that's you know for them this is still the right direction even if it's not perfect but it's still the best option compared to the GRP or other parts for the opposition parties so I think obviously you know the the support for add-on or the AKP isn't going to go away in like a day and I think a lot of people still also think at the times where the AKP really did develop the economy really well they look at you know the improvements I have been made to Istanbul and so I think it's a question of you know kind of where do they see the future but also kind of do they who do they believe can deliver you know a solution to the problems and who is a better alternative sure you have an economic analysis here you think political Islam is secondary to how the economy is going but what do the conservative voters what did what does the base for erawan want to see for the nation what are their interests what are their goals in reference to my words earlier like the AKP has always been a coalition of different forces within the society not necessarily coming from a very conservative background more a political Islamist worldview so those center-right forces have come together and the AKP managed to deliver within the first decade what they were looking for they were looking for more representation they were looking for more opportunities in economic ways and we've seen this huge boom within the in the countryside in Anatolia that new entrepreneurs came out new holdings were formed new companies started so the AKP managed to create its own kind of a middle-class base at which people are enjoying the things that modern capitalism can deliver in their own way so this is still valid and I think one of the reasons why they the government party still has almost half of the support within the society is because we have never directory because they delivered that but at the same time they are failing more and more day by day to debt continue delivering that so that's why it might shift the power might shift okay let's talk about the possible power shift who is the man that millions of people in Turkey are pinning their hopes on Akram and mamola let's find out Akram Imam Oulu addresses his supporters he presents a young and dynamic image his slogan is everything will be fine the 49 year old has managed to present himself as worldly and open yet conservative and religious to his style contrasts with the authoritarianism of president regi up tie of heir to one the central left candidate of the Republican People's Party managed to garner votes from many kurds and a kay party supporters as well he presents himself as someone who wants to and can unite the people not a victory this is a new beginning I would like to say that as of tomorrow as mayor I will treat 16 million people equally the mayor's office and Istanbul is said to be the key to the office of the presidency of turkey could Imam Oulu pose a threat to air Dewan Allen what do you think ken he posed a threat to air – one can he bring the nation together behind his leadership I think if he can form a coalition with with the liberal elements who supported the AKP or work part of the AKP he must reach out to the more religious parts of society then if you can do that great job I agree with that I think so far he has been playing the game right and if he doesn't fail in his game and if he continues gathering the masses behind him get yet gets the support then he might eventually challenge the leadership in the country what do you think Laura is he ready for national politics well I think you know I agree in that I think he has been playing that really well right now the question is can he actually keep that up because at the moment he's trying to unify the more conservative as well as the Nationalists as well as the Kurdish as well as the secular liberals so you know I think the question is can he keep keep that up what he has been doing right now really successfully well jailing political opponents is one method the Aird want government has used as it sees it to guarantee national unity well at points of the country's failed coup the Kurdish separatist movement and the ongoing violence in Syria as threats to national unity air21 points of the country's failed to as the primary element there but as critics say he's using these very real challenges as excuses to crack down on people who do not share his vision of where turkey should go sixteen of them are in court right now for what's known as the gays a trial they're some of the many thousands who've been jailed for their political leanings the C Libre Court and prison complex west of Istanbul is said to be the biggest of its kind in Europe the court rooms are mainly for political trials sixteen representatives of turkey's civil society are in the dock lawyers architects and artists accused of planning and financing an attempt to oust air 2 on their protests began peacefully in 2013 they were primarily directed against plans to build on the site of Ghazi park in Istanbul yet allegations of corruption and nepotism and president air diwan's government grew louder and louder the more violence the police and state used against the demonstrators the more nearby residents supported the protests demonstrations took place in other Turkish cities as well people were killed and wounded when air21 ultimately had Daisy Park cleared in June 2013 back then err Dhawan was already putting the blame on a terrorist conspiracy with financial backing from abroad while his supporters hailed him as a hero how stable is heir to one's government now when we talk about stability for the air21 government we also have to talk about the international picture Turkey's having a lot of problems right now with the United States United States is threatening sanctions against Turkey can air to one shot afford to shift as he is right now towards Russia buying the s400 missile system and risk his relations with the West I think this question has two answers one of them is that Arizona has been playing sporadically this game by trying to align with the antagonists of the West and get some reaction to it and then playing into that in a way that he would gather the actual support that he's looking for so it's kind of like a leverage game for him if I may put it that way so it has been tried in the past and it worked to an extent sometimes it doesn't so one answer is that if he keeps content if he keeps playing this game he might eventually lose all the support that's coming from the West so that's one thing but the other thing is that he should not underestimate and I'm sure he doesn't underestimate the fact that the boom the economic boom that Turkey went through over the past 15 years was thanks to mostly foreign direct investment that came to turn the west and that was mainly from the West and that yeah if we weren't comfortable that is some sort of important factors that turkey should consider at the moment because that money kind of dried out now Allen why would erawan risk relations with the West at a time when he's experiencing so many domestic challenges we look at the vote in Istanbul by buying the Russian s400 anti-missile system well I'll tell you why because we let him down because we lost Syria because when the West said that you know precondition we wanted to get rid of the regime in and we would do that by supporting the opposition everyone went fully for that game and demanded that Assad be removed now he's we the West lost to Russia and Iran who are proxies of China in Syria now if I were at one I would be hedging my bets which is exactly what he's doing he's not sure who's going to be the dominant power in the region in five or ten years because America seems disengaged in Europe is busy chewing up itself so you know we we need to get our act together if we want add-on to be on our side it's really up to us Laura we saw there the gays a trial the suppression of opposition voices there's a number out there hundred forty thousand people one hundred forty thousand people have been arrested um are you worried about a crackdown domestically a further crackdown when you look at a turkey today after this vote as a possible response to the CAHPS victory well I think the correct term has been going on Quinn system continuously so and I don't expect it to go down I don't expect it to die down in any way you know we've just seen it like the start of the gezi is it trials you know there was this threat that you know he might you know that in my model might get you know sued for for insulting so on so I say I don't think that this is going to die down I don't think we're going to see like a kind of a speak in crackdowns all of a sudden again but I definitely don't think that it's gonna go down Chara what do you think I think I agree with her and at the same time I think this gezi trial has a symbolic value because gezi for many people in Turkey including the government circles was when the downturn started for the government so like I was saying see Oh since gezi the government did not produce a viable policy okay for Turkey and we'll see if they'll come up with one now I'd like to thank all of our guests for coming in today thank you so very much and our viewers for joining us of course as well for me Brian Thomas and the entire quadriga team take care until next time

20 thoughts on “Istanbul election: Is Erdogan's AKP losing its grip over Turkey? | Quadriga

  1. I read and hear often that Erdogan is a dictator. If he was in fact a dictator how could his AKP lose?

  2. In Turkey there are millions of people living under 10 dolars per day. They are like suicide bombers ready to do anything if an "islamic leader" such as Erdogan says. So democracy in Turkey is a joke because of poor people.

  3. That old German dude is so ignorant. Erdogan lost all the big cities in Turkey, not just those at the Western coast, Erdogan lost all the way to Adana

  4. Turkey it gives me hope , but i believe this is like what 10% of the population , the rest suppor erodgan staunchly

  5. Erdogan should never be defeated! Long live Erdogan! Long live Turkey! 🇹🇷🇹🇷🇹🇷🇹🇷🇹🇷

  6. Even more worthy of celebration than the seismic political shift is the fact that democracy in Turkey is alive and kicking.

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