Elections in Turkey: the Sublime Porta at the crossroads

(To Gino Lanzara)

Thanks to the parliamentary vote requested by President Erdoğan, the 24 June Turkey will be called to an early election consultation of 18 months compared to the natural deadline of the legislature. Both the majority in power of the AKP and the media, after all conformed to the unambiguous political line, have labeled these elections as "fundamental to change the whole system", that is functional to to complete the controversial political process started with the April 2017 referendum.

The fault lines are many, and define this time frame as one of the most turbulent that has experienced the Republic. Ideologically the Kemalist secularism seems to be on the road to losing the political primacy, where the popular resentment of Islamic - conservative anti-right wing parties has fueled, and continues to do so, especially from rural areas, the ruling party; according to this vision, the new Turkey must awaken, and above all give body to one new deal that, by rejecting secularization, the oppositions are deprived of political space, seen as incompatible with the Turkish - Muslim heritage and contrary to the mission historical entrusted to the president. The referendum that has seen the blow of the Erdoganian leadership prevail, especially if interpreted from the repressive point of view following the failed coup d'état of the 2016, gives all the executive powers, first of the premier prerogative, in the hands of the president, with a contextual and significant reduction of parliamentary prerogatives.

The direct election of the head of state is the significant point of presidential politics, never so effective interpreter of a populist, neo-Ottoman nationalism, oxymoronic if placed in relation to the granted pervasiveness of Islam. More prosaically, the other fault line is the economic one, given the foreign trade deficit and the monetary policy adopted which, by lowering interest rates, causes foreign capital to flee; a heavy flight, if compared to the fact that the Turkish companies were indebted in a foreign strong currency, an operation that further weakened the lira. A political motivation for the anticipation of the elections could therefore lie in the risks that inevitably entail a looming economic crisis, accompanied by inflation, devaluation and deficit on the foreign debt, and despite the fact that the government has concluded a growth in 2017 equal to 7,4% per year, a triumphalism knocked down by the reduction, by Moody's, of the sovereign level credit rating junk (garbage), shared by Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, former Merrill Lynch analyst.

Fears of a possible reignite of the Sino-American trade war, the accumulation of deficits, the dangers of further external shocks, lead the Turkish currency to bear very high pressures, which Erdoğan responded by threatening Moody's and, politically, anticipating the consultations electoral so as not to run the risk of having to justify, between 18 months, as a direct manager, a ruinous recession. Even the Turkish Central Bank, despite the political attempt to keep interest rates low, had to suddenly raise them to stop the dollar from rising against the local currency. Attempts to mass distraction (intervention in Syria and in MO, creation of external enemies), even if they are useful for large sections of the electorate, have not been reflected in the financial field: Turkey is experiencing a crisis similar to that of Argentina.

The elections, in Erdoğan's design, should allow us to guarantee an internal strengthening with the simultaneous strong containment of the opposition and the printed paper, and with a resumption of nationalism that however, Syria et Iraq docent, will not correspond to a significant regional influence, also considering the acceptance of the survival of the Syrian Assad regime. From the point of view temporal of politics accompanied by religion We must not forget the visit to the Vatican, which aimed at involving the Holy See and the EU, in the competition for Jerusalem, on an Islamic-Christian axis that is an alternative to the USA, Israel and the Gulf monarchies. The one who considers himself to be the current head of the Islamic world has forgotten the controversy raised by the criticism of the Armenian genocide.

In spite of the crowds, difficulties and challenges are not lacking and, in perspective, they should also interest the western world, given the various ideological extractions and the possible consents. Above all Meral Akşener, a right-wing nationalist, but with a different right than the president, a prepared and difficult opponent, and coming from a political area that, at least in Italy, could evoke controversial events: the area of ​​the Gray Wolves. The political understandings of Akşener, appealed as the Lupa Asena, have developed according to anti-Erdoğan, and have aimed at the restoration of freedom of expression, the abolition of the innovations introduced by the referendum Consultation, the fight against terrorism and immigration, and to grant more rights to women. For now, for her as for the other opposition leaders, the possibility of winning the elections is not very significant; however, it could embody a hypothesis that should not be underestimated, that is to arrive at the ballot, or to get to the summit a president so successful, but without the necessary majority to govern.

The risks for the president are there, and especially, especially if the opposition is able to remain united and bears a Kemalist political message drawn to the contingent reality. Last but not least is the Kurdish issue, which sees one of its leaders, Selahattin Demirtas, who has been in prison for months and is still awaiting trial. Conclusions. Turkey, rejected by the EU, is trying to interpret a new regional role which, however, is leading it to positions increasingly distant from the Atlantic Alliance; possible object of an unprecedented economic crisis, at the hands of a decidedly authoritarian president, he is centralizing his institutional powers in the hands of a single political subject who has become the interpreter of a difficult assimilation between Kemalist nationalism and political-Islamist instances.

The prevailing populism in the Anatolian state will undoubtedly play a decisive role in Erdogan's election, but it will not be able to circumvent that which is a contingent and critical situation: a splitting of society that has already seen the main urban and cultural centers that are decidedly opposed to the constitutional referendum already proposed. The parliamentary instability that could emerge in the absence of a well-defined majority could lead Erdogan, in spite of everything, to lose his personal competition with Ataturk.

(photo: Presidency of the Republic of Turkey)