A strong message


Turkey delivered an unprecedented setback to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Local elections have resulted in a defeat for his ruling party by the country’s largest opposition for the first time since it started running for elections in 2002. While Mr Erdogan has spent a good part of the last several decades cementing a nationalist narrative, setting high hopes for an Islamic revival, no attempt could counteract chronic inflation and a weakening currency, severely impacting the economy and becoming a significant issue in the campaign.
Additionally, the government’s response to a major earthquake in February last year, which resulted in over 53,000 deaths, was also deemed a major concern, becoming nothing less than manna from heaven for the opposition parties. For now, President Erdogan has expressed his disappointment with the ruling party’s performance and promised to carry out self-criticism and address the shortcomings.
However, no pledge to do better can overcome the ruling party’s defeat, believed to have resulted from public dissatisfaction. Said to be a defeat not only in numbers but punctuated by the notion that all state power had been consumed to try to help the incumbent party win the elections, it appears that Mr Erdogan might have received a strong message. A glimmer of hope flickers for secular and liberal voters, despite Erdogan’s long-standing hold on the country’s institutional networks of power and influence.
While it may be too early to say whether these results will mark a definitive turning point in Turkey’s political landscape, they are certainly significant and offer some cause for optimism. Mr Erdogan has used his position to consolidate his political power base through a complex network of patronage and influence. However, the recent election results indicate that there is a growing dissatisfaction among the Turkish public with the current regime and a desire for change. While it remains to be seen how this will play out in the long term, it is clear that Turkey is at a crucial crossroads and that the decisions made in the coming months and years will have significant implications for the country’s future.
Some changes are, indeed, underway, the most important of which might discourage him from making more changes to the country’s constitution. These changes would have allowed him to serve as the president for a longer period, but it seems that the idea didn’t go very well with the public.