08/12/2014, 00.00
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An uncertain future awaits Turkey after Erdogan's presidential victory

by NAT da Polis
With 52 per cent of the vote, most Turks are betting again on a strongman who rules in an authoritarian style and uses instrumentally their vote. Divisions within the opposition helped his success. Although he promises to be the president of all, he will have to deal with the economy and the demand for civil rights.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - Early surveys were confirmed. Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be the first popularly elected president of the Turkish Republic, a state founded in 1923 on the basis of the secular ideas of Kemal Ataturk.

About 52 per cent of the electorate chose again Erodgan's style of politics. Based on an authoritarian and arrogant use of power, and an instrumental use of popular support, such a style is equally informed by contempt for those who think differently.

Erdogan's support is found among a majority of Turks, mostly devout Muslims and conservative, who began to share in the spoils of political and economic stability, which until recently only the Kemalist establishment enjoyed, that Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) provided since they came to power in 2002. And, as they say in Turkey, AKP politics are in the hands of Erdogan and Allah.  

The silent majority that represents the real Turkey is found in central Anatolia, as opposed to the west coast, which more and more oriented toward different values.

In his first statements after his victory, Erdogan said that will be the president of all 77 million Turks. He also noted that whilst he allowed Kurds to speak their dialect, the country's only language is Turkish. What is more, "Not just Turkey but Baghdad, Kabul, Damascus, Gaza, Aleppo, Bosnia, Skopje, Hamas and Jerusalem won today. The state and the real nation have become one." This confirms the neo-Ottoman pretentions of the "sultan" Erdogan.

Erdogan's propensity of dealing with those who oppose his political views with contempt and arrogance -using authoritarian methods such as blocking of Twitter and YouTube that tend to rouse opposition among those who are hostile to his authoritarian vision of politics - does not bode well. Indeed, his campaign was full of contempt and insults for his rivals, and not a real political programme.

With 52 per cent of the vote, Erdogan becomes the 12th president of Turkey, the first elected by universal suffrage. Nevertheless, according to some respected Turkish commentators, this result hides the divisions that run deep in Turkish society.

The rift between two major opposition parties, the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), is one of them. As such, it was an instrumental in preventing them from presenting a single candidate.

In fact, Erdogan maintained his votes, whilst many (about 1.8 million) of the 4.5 million votes lost by the two opposition parties went to Selahatin Demirtas, a Kurd who ran for the Peoples' Democracy Party (HDP). The other 2.8 million voters abstained. Demirtas ran on a platform to transform Turkish society outside of its traditional framework.

Erdogan's dream is to arrive to 2023, the centenary of the founding by Kemal Pasha of the Turkish Republic; however, he is facing a big obstacle, namely the economic and social needs of Turkish society.

In fact, Turkey requires a growth rate of at least 6 per cent within a balanced macroeconomic programme. However, a long-term economic framework requires a liberal democratic legal system and a sensible foreign policy, which Erdogan's authoritarianism certainly does not provide.

Now the opposition has a great responsibility, namely come up with alternative policies that can appeal to Turkish voters.

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