03/29/2014, 00.00
TURKEY
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Erdogan’s fate to be decided in tomorrow’s local elections

by NAT da Polis
The elections take place in a highly tense climate after Gezi Park protests and the corruption scandals involving AKP ministers and even the prime minister's son. Erdogan's wrath against Twitter and Youtube, but especially against Fetullah Gulen. Conflicting predictions: the opposition says that the AKP will lose up to 15% of the vote. The ruling party is hoping for a solid 38%. Almost no women candidates.

Istanbul (AsiaNews ) - Tomorrow nearly 57 million Turkish voters (about 26.7 million women and 25.9 million men) will vote to elect new local administrators.

But these elections are of increasing national importance because, according to insiders, they will define the political fate of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

The vote takes place after the June 2013Gezi Park protest, and especially after the December 17 and 25, 2013 revelations of corruption scandals and investigations of judges, leading to charges of aggravated bribery against ministers of the AKP government and the arrest of three sons of chief ministers. Later, the son of Erdogan, Bilal, was accused of misappropriation of huge amounts of dollars.

The Youtube video of the conversation between Prime Minister Erdogan and his son Bilal, on the embezzlement of millions of dollars by the latter, has sparked outrage.

Erdogan's reaction was vehement, ordering the immediate removal of those judges and police officers not subservient to the central power.

It also led to his decision to block the use of Twitter and Youtube: they lead to the misinformation of Turkish public opinion and therefore destabilize the new Turkish regime, that of Erdogan and his AKP party

Among other things, there has been an epic clash between Erdogan and Gulen Fetullah, founder of the Islamic brotherhood Hizmet, very active in the control of the police, the judiciary and private education. The premier claims he and his group (termed "the cavern") are behind the revelations of scandals and messages on Youtube. This is why the election campaign took place in an inflamed atmosphere similar to general elections.

At this point, several questions emerge.

First of all, what will the outcome of these elections be and how will the average Turkish voter vote? And will it really be affected by the scandals or other factors?

And will the AKP maintain its position or lose ground and if so to what extent?

Who will win in the big metropolitan municipalities? And if the AKP loses, what will the political scene in Ankara become?

Reading the opposition newspapers one has the feeling that, after the scandals, it will be impossible for the AKP to win the elections. They maintain that in recent times Erdogan has become very aggressive because he knows he will lose the election. This press claims that the question is only on by how great a percentage the AKP will loose: 5, 10 or 15%?

Press close to the AKP party do not mention the scandals. On the contrary the speak of "parallel structures" , controlled by the Fetullah Gulen's Brotherhood, who conspire against the AKP government. They also laud the economic successes of the government, based on a laissez-faire policy, during these 12 years of continuous government. The majority of them have no doubt that tomorrow the AKP will gain between 45 and 47 % of the vote. Some important public figures consider that the end result will stabilize at about 38 % , as in the last administration in 2009.

The evening of March 30 will reveal what the average Turkish voter has decided. Erdogan hopes that his party will be acquitted. He stated that the issue of the scandals will be resolved by the will of the people at the polls. The opposition hopes instead that the Turkish people will use the ballot box to send a message against the nepotism and authoritarianism of Erdogan and his AKP party.

In the search for consensus, yesterday it was reported that 300 thousand other people are being added to the 1.3 million people who receive an allowance for poverty, old age and disability benefits. These because they have a minimum monthly income of 282 pounds Turkish (about 93.6 EUR ) . Until now the minimum threshold for the allowance was 124 Turkish lira (about € 41).

Finally, the void left by the absence of women candidates in tomorrow's elections should be noted. Only 3.3% of the candidates are women: 1.1 % in the AKP; 4.3% in the CHP and 2.5% in the MHP.

 

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