Does Turkish people really need a replacement for Erdogan?
By: Contribution for Syrializm
On the fourteenth of May next, the Turkish people are heading to cast their votes to elect their representatives in parliament.
However, the most important elections are the presidential, in which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will face a new opponent from the opposition.
The upcoming elections transcend the mere issue of democratic functioning in a country that claims to employ democratic methods for transfer of power, as military coups and political chaos days seemingly become a thing from the past, or at least that’s the hope.
In 2018, Erdogan emerged victorious in the presidential elections after surpassing opposition candidates at the time.
However, the 2023 election is different in terms of variety of challenges that both sides of the competition face.
Over the past six years, the Turkish people have witnessed a severe decline in their living conditions, with inflation reaching high levels and the purchasing power of the Turkish lira decreased.
On political and security levels, Türkiye has faced numerous challenges and exigencies, not to mention the period of the Covid pandemic between 2020 and 2021, which affected not only Türkiye but the whole world.
Türkiye, however, may be one of the few countries that managed to confront the pandemic decently.
The government’s ability, under the leadership of President Erdogan, managed to face the pandemic with minimal losses possible, although it was painful for the people, as is the case for humanity in all countries worldwide.
Last February, the Nation faced, yet another earthquake, hover the February 6th one was painful and brought very bad memories.
Currently as the nation is trying to redeem itself from the earthquake that hit several cities and towns, left millions in front of huge destruction, and over 47,000 people dead.
The earthquake unfortunately, became a tool of debate, with the fact that both government and opposition should be on the same page, but that wasn’t the case.
Returning to the political challenges that Türkiye has faced recently, they have been associated with a range of issues.
Foremost among them is the ongoing security dilemma on its borders with Syria and Iraq, as well as the country’s continued confrontation with various security threats, including groups classified as terrorist organizations by Ankara.
And with continuous threat that organizations such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and other Kurdish groups aligned under the banner of the so-called Syria Democratic Forces, which control areas in northern and eastern Syria with full American support, is an ongoing critical issue that subject the Turkish national security on danger, as the Americans are still playing with Kurdish card just to serve its needs, and just as they got what they want or perhaps face the usual dead exit, as the case of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, they will go, leaving the poor Kurds behind.
On the other hand, the confrontation remains within the confines of control with its neighboring and fellow NATO member, Greece.
Türkiye played a significant role in supporting Azerbaijan in its war, where it managed to assert control over most of the disputed territories of Nagorno-Karabakh from its neighbor Armenia.
After reaching a ceasefire agreement between the two sides under Russian auspices, Türkiye became a partner and mediator within the understanding.
Meanwhile, the Justice and Development Party, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, continued to play an important role in its regional stage, particularly with what can be described as a Turkish awakening towards correcting relations with neighboring countries.
This is part of Türkiye’s efforts to de-escalate tensions from various angles and support the Turkish economy in its resilience against the chronic and ongoing crisis.
It prompted the Turkish government to improve its relations with countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel, in addition to ongoing reconciliation efforts with Egypt and neighboring border countries in Syria and Iraq.
Regarding the Syrian issue, recent events have indicated positive signs of Turkish rapprochement with the Damascus government.
This is a long-term agreement that, if realized, would provide solutions to several issues that would enhance the prospects and opportunities for the continued influence of the Justice and Development Party and its leader in a new phase after the May 2023 elections.
Naturally, Türkiye continued to maintain its distinguished relations with Russia and Iran, and Ankara even turned its attention towards studying a partnership with China during the past period.
Türkiye also continued to develop its defense industries, which will ensure near-complete self-sufficiency in armaments in the coming decades, while successfully building regional and international influence and weight.
All of the above can be seen as a summary of a set of issues and files that the current Turkish government handle.
On the other hand, despite the rising popular support for the opposition in the Turkish street to some extent, the opposition parties remained indecisive in selecting the most suitable candidate to face the Turkish President in the presidential elections.
The controversial issue facing the Turkish opposition in choosing the right candidate involves prominent figures in Turkish political society.
When the opposition attempted to form a list of candidates, which it indeed did, it ended up with a shortlist that wasn’t free from surface disagreements, especially after the largest opposition coalition, the “Table of Six,” agreed to choose Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party, the largest opposition party in the country, as the opposition’s candidate in the presidential elections.
On the other hand, other opposition blocs nominated the leader of the Homland Party and Erdogan’s rival in the previous elections, Muharrem Ince, in addition to the independent candidate, Sinan Oğan, as the fourth candidate.
The issue today that concerns the Turkish people as a whole is the economic issue.
Therefore, apart from making emotional decisions, it’s necessary to think with a little prudence when making a decision that will shape the future of the country and its people for at least the next decade.
Here, we don’t challenge fate, nor do we confront the will of Allah.
We cannot be certain about tomorrow and the future.
However, based on logic and after a decade in which Türkiye has moved from one place to another, it has become difficult for the country to go backward.
What has happened and was planned in the event of the coup attempt in July 2016 confirms that.
Türkiye, like any predominantly Muslim country, whether it has given value to Islam or not, is targeted by the West.
Therefore, Western powers don’t allow any country in our region to progress and have independent decision-making and self-sufficiency.
The position that Türkiye has reached, despite the hardships experienced in people’s livelihoods, cannot be relinquished.
Even the mistakes made by the Justice and Development Party and Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally can be rectified through bold steps that contribute to alleviating the economic crisis in the country, without compromising any of the achievements that have been made during the past period.
As for the opposition, if they were to come to power, they would find themselves in a much larger position that exceeds their capabilities for proper governance.
This is an important factor that should be considered when observing how the Turkish opposition has dealt with each other.
The magnitude of the difficulties that the next president must deal with far exceeds the state of political polarization that has turned the Turkish streets into a battlefield between people of different affiliations.
However, the bet remains on the awareness of the Turkish people, who alone played a role in preventing the coup in the summer of 2016.
It’s their responsibility to unite for the sake of the country’s interests.
Regardless of the election outcome, the Turkish people’s realization of the impending danger, without exaggeration, from the dissatisfied West, which isn’t pleased with Türkiye’s current status, and the efforts of the West, including the United States, to destabilize the country, hinder its progress, and even influence it to impose their dictates, won’t be in the best interest of achieving the hopes of the Turkish nation.
The Turkish people have endured many challenges and have remained steadfast to this day.
Therefore, it’s necessary for the country to be entrusted to someone capable of dealing with all these issues competently and rectifying the mistakes that have been made.
An old wisdom said who’s responsible of a mistake is the only one who can fix it, not anyone else.
The Turkish society is well aware of its history and values.
The values of the people, which have been the standard and way of life in both its secular and religious aspects, should be the foundation for choosing the leadership candidate for the upcoming period.
Unfortunately, the opposition has proven its inability to handle and elevate, with all the historical, religious, and moral values it carries.
It’s also unacceptable to continue using the name of Ataturk and his legacy as a tool to manipulate people’s emotions.
Can such opposition lead the country towards progress and security, or even fulfill the promises it generously gave to the people during the election campaign?
We doubt it, and only the elections results will answer this question definitively, leaving no room for doubts.