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Cüneyt Ülsever - English

Kesici’s election comments

7 Nisan 2009
"Three common rights determine voters’ behavior: a) Cultural values: World view: right-left. b) His election of parties: It means elaborating on the above. c) The party leader and his staff."

Between the July 22, 2007, general elections and the March 29 local elections, there was almost no change in any of these, but only a change of the Saadet (Felicity) Party leader and his staff. Even the election campaigns were alike. But an extraordinary situation occurred between the two election periods: the economy!

***

The summary results are as follows:

1) Growth: It is the key indicator, so important that at times other indicators may not be needed. Between 2003 and July 22, 2007:

a) 2003: 5.3 percent, b) 2004: 9.4 percent, c) 2005: 8.4 percent, d) 2006: 6.9 percent, e) 2007: 6.0 percent during the first six months.

Average growth between 2003 and before July 22, 2007: 7.2 percent!

The figure allows any party in any countries to win elections. So it did happen in Turkey.

Between July 2007 and pre-election 2009: a) 2007: The second six months: 3.7 percent, b) 2008: 1.1 percent.

Between the July 22, 2007 elections and end of 2008: Average 2.4 percent!

In 2008, the fourth quarter: -6.2 percent!

In 2009, the first quarter: Not announced yet; it will likely be around -10 percent.

Between July 22, 2007, and March 29 elections: Average 1.7 percent!

(Economic growth drops from 7.2 percent to 1.7 percent. (CU)) The growth of the last six months is -6.2 percent. These figures are enough to topple any government in any country.

***

2)
Stock Exchange:

It is the second important indicator of the economy. In the July 22, 2007, general election period, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, leader Deniz Baykal: "Mr. Baykal, look at the stock exchange [figures].")

July 2007: Istanbul Stock Exchange: 58,800 points.

Present: 23,000-25,000 points (Dow Jones: 13,300 and 8,000 points)

***

3)
Foreign exchange:

U.S. dollar/Turkish Liras: July 2007: $1 = 1.27 TL. After March 29 elections: $1=1.70-1.80 TL.

***

4)
Some indexes:

July 2007Dec. 2008

The Central Bank

Real sector

confidence index11252

Overall index10832

Turkey Statistics Institute (TUIK)

Consumer

confidence index9770



This is it! Of course, a single factor cannot be enough to explain anything in the world. But the most important factor having an impact on voters’ choice in the March 29 local polls is a bad economic situation.
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The Saadet Party factor

1 Nisan 2009
Since Erdoğan’s self-confidence has been harmed severely, the governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, lost eight points.

Mr. Prime Minister’s empathy for the poor and the aggrieved this time lost people’s trust for being the only politician who insults people, humiliates credit card debtors and makes remarks of social Darwinism. His expression "The crisis will bypass us" infuriated even conservatives.

I have focused on the theme that the Saadet (Felicity) Party will give the AKP a headache after Numan Kurtulmuş was elected as the new Saadet leader on Oct. 26, 2008. I was the first columnist who brought this to the attention of the media. I even claimed that Erdoğan’s spiritual state had turned upside down since then.

But my biggest claim was:

Due to the Saadet factor, the AKP will not strike a deal with the International Monetary Fund in advance of the local elections.

I made this claim in the midst of October and today we can clearly see the results. The AKP-kissers lost themselves when I made similar comments because my remarks hit a nerve. Those who sided with the former Saadet leader, Necmettin Erbakan, began to breathe fire against the party as the elections approached. They fiercely criticized my referrals to the National View’s power and influence over Saadet and the AKP. They distorted my remarks as though I introduced the National View as the most democratic organization in Turkey. However, figures confirm my thesis today.

Saadet has increased votes from 812,000 in the July 22, 2007 general elections to about 2 million in Sunday’s local polls. Saadet won 1.18 million additional votes on Sunday’s elections, approximately a 2.5 fold increase compared to that of 2007.

So it wouldn’t be wrong to say that almost all of the Saadet’s 1. 18 million extra votes this time came from the AKP; the votes that the governing party lost in 2009, which is 3.1 million compared to those of 2007.

So did other parties of course steal the AKP’s votes but about 38 percent of the votes the AKP lost went to Saadet. This points out to a very critical shift in votes.

Conservatives have realized for a long time that women in headscarves and driving Cherokee jeeps give a different profile than those women wearing headscarves but riding commuter busses. But the conservatives have not voted for the parties different from themselves. And they thought the old version of Saadet is old indeed.

The Saadet, however, has gained momentum with Kurtulmuş and become a new ray of hope for the said conservatives. If the economy professor Kurtulmuş criticizes the economic situation as the way the former President Süleyman Demirel did in a common language of the ordinary and chases after corruption claims in the way the CHP’s Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu did, he will be able to seriously knock around the AKP. I will curiously follow the Saadet and its leader in the new term.

P.S.: Conservatives have turned to Saadet not because some columnists, including me, wrote so but because they have wanted to do so. I am simply making an analysis.
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Elections that crushed Mr. Prime Minister

31 Mart 2009
Prime Minister Erdoğan generously spent his 46.58 percent voting credits he gained in the July 22, 2007 general elections. And by receiving only 39.0 percent of the votes in city council elections on March 29, Erdoğan lost 7.58 points, a 16.2 percent decrease in the governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, votes. I relied on Adil Gür’s opinion poll in advance of the elections and wrote that the AKP will lose 14.55 percent of votes, 6.78 points. The AKP toadies were angry at me.

Many thanks to Mr. Adil Gür!

***

Erdoğan turned the elections into his personal issue and poured everything out before the polls. However, we have learned that neither food aid nor white-goods charities nor alms-giving, nor "one minute" screams of his nor his new title, the "Conqueror of Gaza," nor his promises "I am serious this time," nor his mimicking U.S. President Barack Obama and saying "We are like twin brothers," nor his bullying Mr. Aydın Doğan of the Doğan Media Group, nor debates over the Ergenekon crime gang case nor the TRT-6 did not help to save Mr. Prime Minister.

But a simple figure was enough to finish him up: 13.6 percent! Record level of unemployment taught me and Erdoğan that people acted not ideologically but realistically in this election. Mr. Prime Minister on his way to autocracy now will have a seat and make calculations over again. Erdoğan will learn that he cannot fool people by playing the role of the aggrieved.

The dailies such as Zaman, Yeni Şafak and Star’s ignoring the global economic crisis that negatively affected people looked like a hide-and-seek game where children hide themselves but their backs remain out in the open.

***

Difficult days are waiting for Mr. Prime Minister ahead. We have not hit the bottom of the crisis yet. That will happen in the midst of 2009. According to experts, the crisis will not make a "V" turn by hitting the bottom first and then coming back up to the surface but will make a "U" turn by spending some time at the bottom. We’ll have to deal with a quite high unemployment figure for a long time.

Prime Minister Erdoğan will have to revise the 2009 budget, to correct the visual growth rate from +4 percent to -4 percent and to create funds for the budget deficit, which was foreseen for a year yet occurred within two months. In order to do that, Erdoğan will either increase taxes or will issue money.

Clearly, the defeated prime minister is between the devil and the deep blue sea. In the aftermath of the polls, he should meet with the International Monetary Funds, or IMF, authorities. The IMF knows perfectly that they are being kept busy because of the election expenditures and now they are greening and waiting for Erdoğan to sit their laps.

Now Mr. Prime Minister will learn the real meaning of strangling people! Following this election, we’ll have a prime minister who has no choice but to do whatever the IMF asks! I will curiously follow the columns of my economist liberal colleagues Mehmet Altan, Eser Karakaş and what kind of tricks, or as said "gata-kulli" in Turkish, they will attempt to help Erdoğan. I will analyze the Saadet (Felicity) Party factor tomorrow, which I have focused on for months.
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The Saadet Party

25 Mart 2009
The National View is one of the oldest and most successful political organizations in Turkey. The National View, in my opinion, is the most meaningful political movement of people who insist on having a conservative lifestyle in every aspect of life and who refuse modern/nonconservative lifestyles affecting economic, social and political spheres that was addressed by the Republic.

The leader of this movement, Necmettin Erbakan, carried the National View to the government as a result of a long period of efforts through forming various political parties that were closed down later on. Erbakan, as the prime minister of the 54th government, barely had claimed the power yet quickly lost it (Feb. 28) as a result of new impositions over the National View.

Besides, Erbakan having difficulty to adapt to changing conditions failed to understand the demands of the new bourgeoisie rising in Anatolia and therefore lost his influence over the National View. The new Anatolian bourgeoisie was conservative yet ready to cooperate with the West in the frame of free market economy.

When Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took over the government from Erbakan who had foreseen this new kind of conservatism was giving a picture of a leader having access to the past and to the future at the same time.

***

However, the government leg of the National View, which represented both parties in that period of time, perhaps easily represented the Anatolian bourgeoisie but had difficulties to keep the promises they made to the conservative grassroots.

There was no change in the conservative grassroots’ income share since 2002. There was no freedom to wear headscarves in universities. The Religious High School coefficients in the university entrance exam did not change.

Perhaps "conservative lifestyle" was more visible and even stronger in a way to impose itself onto the others but a new line of tension started to emerge between the rich women wearing a headscarf and the poor ones in a headscarf. Deepening economic crisis lately created the highest unemployment figure in the Republic era (13.6 percent) and hit the poor women wearing headscarves once again.

The Justice and Development Party, or AKP, stuck between the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, and the European Union.

As similar developments began to occur since 2002, the AKP was comfortable because no matter how angry the poor women wearing headscarves were to the party, they did ignore its alternative (the Republican People’s Party, or CHP). To the more, they historically saw the CHP as "sectarian" to the conservative lifestyle." They, on the other side, found the SP as an outdated party although they have a similar way of thought. For this reason, only 2.34 of the poor women in headscarves voted for SP, a total of 820,289 votes in the July 22, 2007 general elections. (See: The Supreme Election Board)

***

However, the global economic crisis is getting more serious as we approach March 29. On the other side, the SP is awakening again. New SP leader Numan Kurtulmuş is a young, dynamic economy professor who is exerting tremendous efforts to update his party.

And there is a strong organization nurturing the SP, though it lost some votes to the AKP: The National View!

If the SP manages to increase votes from 2.3 percent to 6 to 8 percent in the City Council in the March 29 elections, it will give a big headache to the AKP in the new period.
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The Democratic Party

24 Mart 2009
Today, I will write about the DP and tomorrow will focus on the SP. I will however not make any analytical estimation.

***

Since I am not one of those fake liberals who are interested in introducing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a liberal-democrat although he turns more of an autocrat everyday, I am passionately seeking a strong liberal-democrat party representing center-right. Although I was angry at political leaders who closed their eyes to the "376 scandal," I was so excited by the coalition of ANAP+DYP = DP that had emerged just before the July 22 general elections. This partnership didn’t work however, due to the DP leader Mehmet Ağar and the center-right was rightfully criticized by people July 22. I was disappointed for a long time. Then, a young DP leader has come to the fore: Süleyman Soylu!

Soylu will either make a meaningful move March 29 or will take his party to a point way back from the July 22 elections and will have to transfer the flag to someone else. This will of course be at people’s discretion!

***

Soylu has traveled 260,000 kilometers in the last 14 months and addressed people over 330 times in 44 provinces in the last 27 days exhausted himself and tried to introduce the new version of his party that rid of the old machiavellian administrators. He is almost rebuilding the DP!

Although Soylu rarely takes the stage in big cities except the Gaziosmanpaşa meeting where he was able to gather 30,000 people in the square. He is focusing to express himself in smaller cities and rural counties. He finds audiences in villages and towns especially. And in some municipalities his victory is being forecasted. But I will in general look into how many votes the DP will win in city councils.

The DP won nearly 1.9 million votes in the July 22 elections, 5.42 percent of the total vote cast (see: Supreme Election Board). If DP surpasses 5.42 percent in this election, I will have more hope. If it drops below 5.42 percent, I will wait for Soylu to do what is necessary.

***

The governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, divides people and governs the country today. The Republican People’s Party, or CHP, has allowed the AKP’s separatist attitude. I am worried about a shift in the government toward an autocratic administration and a patronizing conservatism. The number one characteristic of liberal-democratic center-right is to embrace everyone without discrimination. The center-right is a view that combines conservative values of people with innovations needed the most. The center-right makes no imposition whatsoever.

Political parties having the utmost respect for freedoms and individual rights are liberal democrat parties. Turkey needs a party that will simultaneously allow headscarf in universities, let Alevis have an equal share in the budget, protect the rights of Kurds, prepare a new Constitution, passionately defend Turkey’s EU bid and will not fall into corruption and poverty traps. Could the DP be an alternative to the center-right? That is my question!
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An open letter to Eser Karakaş

17 Mart 2009
1) Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan participates in the March 29 local elections, having the Saadet Party phobia. Unemployment is a problem. Plus, there is no nonsense discussion on "we are losing laicism" or no new "April 27 e-memorandum" to boost Erdoğan’s support. Therefore, his election strategy is based on verbal attacks on the "big media" for he has no other pretext of aggravation, though he always manages to find a way to play the aggrieved even in the government. In this case, the pro-government media members are taking a swipe at the Aydın Doğan media group. The more they slammed down on us the more they earn.

They are feeling obliged to do so, just like the generals of the Feb. 28 process.

2) Besides several media members with no accumulation of knowledge are chasing after fame as they see necessary to insult the Hürriyet and Milliyet dailies as well as Hürriyet’s editor-in-chief, Ertuğrul Özkök. They take the stage once in a while and try to steal the show.

Dear Eser Karakaş; you don’t belong to the said group, you shouldn’t be.

You are a distinguished finance expert rarely found in this country. There is no more title left for you to earn other than your current "professor" tenure.

Everyone is proud of your wife, Professor Işıl Karakaş, being a judge at the European Court of Human Rights, or ECHR. I don’t think you need money.

Dear Karakaş why are you lashing out at the Milliyet and Hürriyet dailies? (Star daily, 15.03.2009)

You must have not been happy with this yourself because you make long explanations to clarify that you don’t have a problem with either Hürriyet nor Milliyet.

You stressed in your article that Hürriyet and Milliyet insisted on not seeing the "wells in Silopi".

I searched the archives in both newspapers and came up with 12 articles in Hürriyet and six articles in Milliyet published since Dec. 16, 2008. I think these figures were not enough for you.

However, I am offended by your criticism of columnists whom you claim do not write on this particular subject.

First of all, I am quite surprised by your determination about who should write on what. I cannot speak for others but I do believe that you, as a liberal, are not fair at all.

My book titled "Hadji" in which I question the Feb. 28 process, illegal structuring of the Special War Dept. and murders by unknown prosecutors was published in 2003.

Nowadays, I am writing in my articles about JITEM, the Susurluk incident, killings committed by unknown perpetrators and about that the Ergenekon crime gang case will be null and void if the Feb. 28 process is not examined thoroughly along the case.

I was put before the judge seven times in the Feb. 28 period.

And when I see a tautology by you, which did not fit you at all, I was furious.

Dear Eser; since we have a right to guide each other let me ask you this:

1) Will you, as a scientist, circumvent the "Darwin scandal" in a few lines?

2) Don’t you, as pro-EU, have nothing to tell the screwy George Friedman who is being blessed for mentioning Turkey’s leadership in the Middle East and about the Neo-Ottomans and who implores us to "turn our back on the European Union and concentrate on the Middle East" without looking at the CIA’s relations?

3) Don’t you, as an economist, have anything to criticize Erdoğan for ignoring the economic crisis in favor of the local elections? Don’t you make in-depth analysis over the unemployed, whose number has increased by 838,000 since Dec. 2008 and reached 3.274 million?

Dear Eser Karakaş, have you, as the columnist of the daily Star, ever thought of these questions while you were flying together with Sabah, Zaman, Yeni Şafak and Taraf dailies columnists in a private plane for Mr. Prime Minister?
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Turkish-American relations in the Obama period

10 Mart 2009
Obama also announced that he would try to reach out to countries such as Iran and Syria in the new period and that he would adopt a realistic approach to follow several organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Taliban.

A Syria that is no longer under the Iranian influence, an Iran that has given up nuclear arms production, a Hezbollah and Hamas turning away from terror are also foreign policy initiatives that the new U.S. president can try. Plus, he has a vision of creating a Taliban by having rapprochement with moderate powers and framing the staunch members of this organization.

As a projection, Turkey is an extremely important broker in this new term.

Largely as a result of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s top adviser Ahmet Davutoğlu’s vision, Turkey has become an ideal broker due to a bit of ideological similarities and its getting closer to Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah, where the United States remained at a distance to all during the Bush administration.

We will see, however, over time if this new approach covered by some press organs in a festivity atmosphere is a strategic partnership or simply mediation, as I stress.

Let me ask a few questions today though:

1) Picture this, a year later the United States and Turkey will do everything in their power but there could be an Iran still insisting on nuclear arms production and a Syria next to Iran. Therefore a Syria that fails to find peace with Israel. In addition to a Hamas and Hezbollah that are no longer influenced by Turkey and that continue terrorist activities in Iran’s control.

In such case, will Turkey be needed as a broker, let alone the strategic partner?

2) What will the United States say to Iran? If Iran after a while says, "Forget about Turkey’s mediation. Let’s have face-to-face talks on our own." Moreover, what could the United States’s answer to Iran be? If Iran wants to be the big brother in the Middle East and says, "Why shouldn’t I be a strategic partner the United States on the condition of being involved in talks in the multi-axis world?"

3) After all the tries, what will Turkey do if the United States determines that Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah cannot be tamed up and the only thing they understand is violence?

4) Besides, if the importance of "strong strategic relations" hadn’t been underlined in the Ali Babacan-Tzipi Livni meeting in Brussels, and if the two foreign ministers hadn’t decided to continue "cooperation and diplomatic talks" by giving the message that the "cooperation between Turkey and Israel is of importance for the stability in the region," what would U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have said to Turkey? (Semih İdiz, Milliyet Daily, March 7, 2009). If the "Conqueror of Davos" hadn’t declared to the entire world through the lines I quoted above that he is not a conqueror anymore, will the relations be heated to this extent?

5) Did Clinton, who has given a face lift to the new face of the United States, give a face lift to the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government and Erdoğan in particular by her visit to the Anıtkabir, Atatürk’s mausoleum, her emphasis on a laic Turkey and on freedom of the press?

6) Did the human rights advocate Ms. Clinton ask Erdoğan anything about his good friend and butcher of humanity Sudanese President Omar al Bashir?

7)
Will the U.S. State Secretary, reiterating that the United States will help Turkey’s accession to the European Union, support Turkey if we don’t make any compromise at all about the Cyprus issue and insist that the EU should accept Turkey as a member despite all?

Actually, my questions are simple: Will the real politics or sentimental close-up between the double-faced Erdoğan who is admired in the streets of the Middle East and Obama determine the Turkish-American relations?
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Turkey-US relations in the new term

3 Mart 2009
Davutoğlu gave a description of Turkish foreign policy as a multi-axis policy in constant search of absolute peace with the neighbors and a policy of mixing real politics and ideal politics that stands all parties (Hamas, Israel etc.) from an equal distance.

He says in the new term a new understanding will come into existence between Turkey and the United States as the reason that both countries will follow multi-axis policies.

He draws an interesting analogy. Both U.S. President Barrack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are seen as a ray hope in the streets of the Middle East, says Davutoğlu, emphasizing that the region’s people have high expectations of the two leaders.

Besides, the chief adviser shares quite positive impressions about Obama’s new special envoy to the Middle East, George J. Mitchell, who visited Turkey last week. Mitchell knows a lot about the Middle East but most importantly is a very good listener, Davutoğlu said. If his observation means that the U.S. will hear the problems of the region from the region’s people, then this is a quite improvement. I wouldn’t know about Davutoğlu’s observations but the neo-cons I met made me furious because of their ignorant yet cavalier attitudes.

A search on the Web revealed that some experts share Davutoğlu’s opinions about Mitchell. Former Democratic Party majority leader and former senator, Mitchell is of Irish origin. So he tried to seek mediation patiently in Northern Ireland as the former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s envoy. By combining his wit over the parties and determination, Mitchell played a key role in the Good Friday agreement signed in 1998.

According to Davutoğlu, multi-axis policies of Turkey make the country a rising star not only in the Middle East but in Africa as well. Turkey’s role as a leader in the Middle East is of importance to me and I think Iran and Turkey are in competition in the subject. I believe a positive turn is possible in Iran-U.S. relations on condition of reformists’ victory in the Iranian elections.

And again, I think another step will be taken in the new term when U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton visits Turkey. Turkey-U.S. relations will have a serious test about the Armenian genocide bill Apr. 24.

Davutoğlu and Çeviköz did not give details but they have created an atmosphere that some sensitive efforts are being made in bilateral relations with Armenia.

I am of the opinion that Turkey-U.S. relations will be riveted by the prospective role of Turkey while United States withdraws from Iraq.And I have the impression from Davutoğlu that some talks have already begun.

The only country having contacts with all elements in the region including Shiite, Sunni, Kurds in Iraq as well as governments, tribes and militia is Turkey, Davutoğlu specifically stressed.

He says the United States may benefit from Turkey’s comparative advantage in U.S. policies on Iraq.
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