ArmInfo. The upcoming elections in Turkey are the last decisive political battle for Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Dean of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Yerevan State University, Turkologist Ruben Melkonyan, shares a similar opinion.
Thus, giving an assessment of the forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in Turkey this year, the expert stated that presumably on May 14 parliamentary and presidential elections are expected in Turkey.
In this vein, he drew attention to the fact that a number of opinions are circulating in the political and expert field about the results, significance and consequences of the relevant elections. At the same time, Melkonyan analyzed the upcoming electoral processes in Turkey from the point of view of political symbolism, presenting his Turkological observations.
"This is the last and decisive political battle for Turkish President Erdogan, for victory, in which he is ready to take any step: from an overdose of populism and the use of administrative resources to violations, pressures and the manifestation of sentimental emotions. These elections will be a symbolic and practical confirmation of the political line and style of Erdogan, who has been in politics since the 1990s and has ruled Turkey since 2002," the Turkologist is convinced.
The expert believes that the Kemal Turkish Republic established in 1923 has every chance to turn into the Erdogan Turkish Republic on its 100th anniversary. According to him, and if in 1923 it chose the model of a secular state and the ideology of secularism, then in 2023 this is a classic example of a state with an ideology of conservatism, rich in religious / Islamic elements.
"Erdogan has prepared for the elections in political, methodological and financial terms. Turkey, which is in financial and economic problems, has received quite a lot of money from some Arab countries and now, shortly before the elections, they are being used to increase pensions, alleviate the credit burden of citizens and ensure other similar manifestations of "financial populism"," Melkonyan said.
At the same time, he stressed that over the years Erdogan has mastered the synthesis of rhetoric and populism, and in fact today he has no competitor in the political field of Turkey, who can use political, religious, street, literary and artistic speech and provided it possibilities.
"Despite his age and state of health, Erdogan continues to be a figure whose speech has a natural "political fire", in contrast to the opposition, who either do not have this fire, or it is artificial or half-extinguished. Erdogan skillfully plays on various emotions of Turkish society, among of which, of course, the religious one is the most noticeable. However, sentimentalism and emotionalism is also manifested in these elections, the most striking example of which is the statement that the President of Turkey asks the people to vote for him for the last time," the Turkologist added.
Referring to the date chosen for the upcoming elections, Melkonyan recalled that in 1950, the opposition and the semi-hidden supporter of the rise of Islam in Turkey, the Democratic Party, won the multi-party parliamentary elections held on May 14. In other words, he continued, on May 14, 1950, political Islam defeated secularism or Kemalism for the first time, and Adnan Menderes, whom the current President Erdogan considers one of his political teachers, became the Prime Minister of Turkey.
"Menderes has a sad and tragic end. In 1960, after a military coup in Turkey, he was arrested and some time later hanged. Menderes is considered the "martyr of political Islam" of the Republic of Turkey, as well as the first politician who defeated the secular ideology of Ataturk. In addition, his image is shrouded in a veil of mythology and an "innocent political martyr", which after his death, and especially in today's Turkey, dominates the social-political perception and is one of the important factors giving rise to the said emotionality," the Turkologist said.
In his opinion, the political heir and successor of Menderes, Erdogan, wants to symbolically organize elections on May 14, seeking to ensure the final victory of the Islamic political line over the Kemalist one, secular Turkey and to consolidate Erdogan's Turkey instead of Ataturk's Turkey. At the same time, the Turkologist believes that Erdogan will thus try to enlist the votes of those who supported the political line of Menderes. "Roughly speaking, the image of Menderes will also work for Erdogan in these elections," the expert added.
Regarding Erdogan's rivals, Melkonyan stated that at the moment an opposition format has developed in Turkey, which consists of 6 opposition parties that are trying to nominate a single candidate.
"The members of Republican People's Party are considered to be the main ones. Party's leader is Kemal K?l?cdaroglu and he leader of the youth wing is the current Mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu. The Mayor of Istanbul is a really interesting political figure, a good speaker, well versed in the tools of populism, is popular among the inhabitants of Istanbul. However, naturally, lacking the political experience to compete with the grand master of Turkey's political system, Erdogan, as well as the administrative resources accumulated in his hands, Imamoglu, could pose a real threat, or at least cause extreme tension for the ruling team in the elections.
In my opinion, this issue can have two solutions: either Imamoglu does not run and gives way to the chairman of the party, K?l?cdaroglu, and prepares for the next elections, or he runs and immediately faces specific political persecution. And another potential opposition presidential candidate, Kemal K?l?cdaroglu, is inferior to Erdogan in a number of aspects and is an easier opponent for him, but, despite this, he can collect the votes of the opposition and especially the stable electorate of Kemal, which will not reach a critical level, " the expert believes.
Touching on who the West will support, Melkonyan noted the importance of taking into account two important circumstances that cannot be ignored.
"Firstly, today's Turkey is significantly different from the Turkey of the 20th century, where the influence and desire of the West could be decisive. And secondly, the factor known as Western support already sounds very old-fashioned in the case of today's Turkey, which has reached a serious level self-sufficiency in many political and geopolitical issues. Therefore, the visits of Turkish opposition to Western countries and their veil of secrecy are manifestations of eternal nostalgia for the past , now non-existent political situation," the Turkologist believes.
According to him, Erdogan focuses and puts emphasis on symbols and symbolic dates not only on current political issues, but also, so to speak, on his political heritage.
"And Armenia? This question should be answered very succinctly: the policy of the Turkish state towards the state of Armenia and the Armenians is built and based on hostile, negative ideas, with practical steps and policies resulting from this. Therefore, regardless of who is the president Turkey and the ruling authorities cannot expect any serious and positive breakthrough in relation to Armenia, everything else is delusion wrapped in ignorance and self-deception," Melkonyan is convinced.
In this vein, he recalled that none of the Turkish presidents over the past 30 years has agreed to open the borders with Armenia. "During this entire period, the Armenian-Turkish border did not open, Armenian- Turkish relations were not regulated, Turkey's support for Azerbaijan did not decrease, but increased, Turkey's struggle against the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide did not stop. The only difference in the approaches of the Turkish presidents to Armenia are wild fluctuations the level of aggressiveness of rhetoric, which never had and have no any connection with the current policy," the expert summed up.