A ballot box hanging over the Aegean

A ballot box hanging over the Aegean

With the Turkish elections set for May 14, we are now entitled to hope that it will not be long before the date of our own elections is announced, ending those cryptic government statements. Obviously, every prime minister, when he is in the position Kyriakos Mitsotakis is in today, wants his party to benefit as much as possible from the ambiguity, until he finally chooses a Sunday that is most favorable for his plans. But the seemingly never-ending plucking of daisies erodes even more deeply the credibility of politics and politicians in general.

As things stand, May 14 is of decisive importance both for Turkey and our own country. We should not, however, harbor any illusions that Turkey’s expansionist policy will change if Recep Tayyip Erdogan is defeated after 20 years of omnipotence. The very aggressive rhetoric of the Turkish president’s divided opponents and their deepest convictions do not allow them.

The former co-leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas, who certainly has other priorities than any ambitions against the Greek islands of the Aegean, remains in prison – further evidence of Turkey’s autocratic rule. And whatever hopes for moderation could be expected from the mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, all hang by a thread held by the obedient Turkish justice – that is, to Erdogan.

The Turkish leader, as we have seen from his reaction to the recent report in The Economist about the low quality of Turkey’s democracy, uses even the most measured comments of the Western press as “evidence” of machinations not only against him but also against the very existence of the Turkish state. His “love” of free press shows his democratic feelings.

Until May 14, we will hear many more times Erdogan threatening in vain that the Turks will “come suddenly one night,” riding on his illusion of military grandeur. With his country maintaining the world’s highest inflation rate, 85%, and the Turkish lira having lost 9/10s of its value in a decade, he must somehow entice voters. One-off “gifts” to the Turkish people, paid thanks to Qatar’s remittances, are a temporary solution, but not as effective as over-the-top doses of chauvinism. 

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