Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

Here we go again

In all probability, the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, will win in three days’ time its third consecutive national confidence vote since it became to power in 2002. This time, the critical thresholds are 40 and 50 percent of the national vote, i.e., less than 40 percent would not be alarming yet indicative of a saturation point, and more than 50 percent will illustrate a seal on the AKP’s grip on power. I would bet for the latter rather than the former possibility.

Today, Turkey’s socio-political demography is an even more fertile ground for the AKP than it was in the 2002, 2004 (municipal) and 2007 elections. It was not for no reason that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has prescribed every Turkish family to make at least three, and "even four or five" children each Ğ when there are already officially 3.4 million jobless people around. Mr. Erdoğan is aware that every new jobless young man will either end up at a tarikat (religious order) or turn up at the ballot box as a pious but poor Muslim voting for the AKP, or both. With never-ending corruption stories surrounding the AKP and its friends, an emerging elite group of pious rich men, coupled with punishing economic conditions for the masses will probably not keep the average Turkish voter from putting the rubber stamp on the bulb on a yellow background. There are two main reasons for that.

First, as this column has often emphasized, the AKP is Ğ increasingly Ğ the mirror image of the average voter: devoutly Muslim, but "display Muslim" only; anti-Western for religious/political reasons but pro-EU in anticipation of economic benefits; pro-military for chauvinistic reasons but increasingly distant to the established political ideology of the barracks; collectivist in theory but individualist in practice; and moralist when "the other" goes corrupt but tolerant when "we" do.

As I wrote a year and a half earlier, Turkey is a strange country. A majority of its inhabitants are in a love-and-hate relationship with the rest of the world. For example, they most hate the country where they probably would love to live in. They hate the Western bloc they wish to become a part of. They see their major Western ally as their top security threat. They love the idea of Islamic solidarity, yet they see their Muslim neighbors as security threats. They look and think "westward" but buy tickets for an "eastward" destination, and, even more bizarre, vice-versa. Turkey can be an unbearingly tiring fieldwork for sociologists/political scientists. Here, two plus two almost never equals four.

Second, there is the element of "unfair competition." Has anyone in any other country ever seen voters’ psychology that blames the poverty of the masses not on the ruling party but on another that has never been in power since God knows when? That’s because of unfair competition. Sadly, it is. There is nothing stronger than a religious bond between religiously conservative people, which the Turks have visibly become one Ğ and even becoming more conservative. The pious man will be prepared to blame the non-pious for the failings of another pious man. Of course, the opposite may also be true. But the "pool" is made up of 75-80 percent conservative people, not the others.

The pious man will see the government-opposition battles from a religious perspective. A kind of "our holy fight against infidels" psychology. With no baby food to bring home and another day lost by looking for a job in vain, he would not be thinking of his miserable life when he goes to the ballot box. There, a stronger motive will capture his mind: religion.

That is one reason why the most unfortunate Turks tend to vote for the governing party, according to several studies. They would not question why they have been made so worse off while the ruling elite keep on enjoying the finer things of life. They will make voting preferences like soldiers ready to die for God. I can see Mr. Erdoğan rubbing his hands if every Turkish family made a dozen children and 10 of them ended up miserable but faithful.

This local election will not be an exception. More Turks are jobless today than in 2007. More Turks are poorer. More Turks have been born, grown into adolescence, passed 18. More Turks have since then been educated by pious families, more Turkish children have enrolled at Koranic schools, and more see their prime minister as a modern day Sultan when he tells them Turkey is a global power, and as the Caliph when he teaches the "cursed" Jews a good lesson.

Mr. Erdoğan et al. have God on their side.
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