Elections in Turkey will not be normal, says academic Sebnem Oguz

Foreign Affairs

The elections in Turkey scheduled for 14 May will not be normal elections said Prof. Dr. Sebnem Oguz. In a lecture at the University of Cyprus, the professor analysed the handling of the recent catastrophic earthquakes in Turkey by the Justice and Development Party, AKP. Until recently a professor of political science in Turkey's Baskent University, Oguz said there is rage among the Turkish society over the quakes, the number of fatalities and the great catastrophe and at the same time fear. She said examples from the past have indicated that the result of the elections can be influenced with methods such as exerting pressure on voters, perhaps electoral fraud, while emphasising that in the regions affected by the earthquakes, individuals who have died may still appear on the voter rolls, which could affect the final result. Oguz said the National Alliance, the six opposition parties to contest the 2023 Turkish general elections under Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP) is a fragile alliance with a neoliberal economic programme while the party's leader does not seem to have a problem meeting with the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, HDP which has formed its own alliance. Kiliçdaroglu, did not go ahead with the meeting after objections by the National Alliance members. The Turkish academic noted that the "Labour and Freedom Alliance" under the HDP, which is the third-largest party in the Turkish National Assembly, includes the parties Labour Movement Party (EHP), Labour Party (EP), Federation of Socialist Assemblies (SMF), Workers' Party of Turkey (TIP) and the Social Freedom Party (TÖP) and gathers about 15% of the vote. This is necessary, she noted, for the victory of Kemal Kiliçdaroglu. "The HDP agrees to support the opposition leader, the National Alliance, on one condition: that he goes to meet them. And he hasn't done that yet', she added. Oguz believes that even if Kiliçdaroglu and the alliance win the elections, managing the country will not be easy. She explained that AKP has eroded the system and is now controlling the state mechanism. An example, she said is that for the reconstruction of areas affected by the earthquake, the ruling AKP government directly assigns the projects to companies affiliated with the ruling party. The Republican People's Party (CHP), the Good Party, and the rest of the opposition alliance, she said, will come - if they win - to promote their own people and their own companies. She further said that economic policy proposed in Kemal Kiliçdaroglu's election programme is the liberal practices proposed by AKP in its first period of its 21 year in power. She agreed that currently there are no conditions either domestically in Turkey or internationally to implement such policies. Oguz believes that the result of the 14th May elections will depend on the peoples' power. And even then, transition from an authoritarian regime to a democracy will not be easy. She said that a third option is needed to protect the rights of minorities in Turkey, women, children, and all citizens.

Source: Cyprus News Agency