The “one-man” is becoming isolated

The June 23 electoral defeat resulted in Erdoğan’s crisis becoming public. Now, Erdoğan needs new alliances to get out of this crisis, but both individuals and institutions alike are choosing to distance themselves from him to ponder a Turkey without Erdoğan.

Click CC in the bottom right corner for English subtitles.
Broadcast date: 2 July 2019

Translation: Melissa Clissold / Subtitles: Egemen Gök

Hello, good day. I’d like to state that, as someone who mentioned the risks of the June 23 elections for Erdoğan, I’m not surprised of the recent developments at all. People from different backgrounds are slowly distancing themselves from Erdoğan who has been losing slowly and has been experiencing grave losses – in fact he has suffered a “stinging defeat”. An interesting picture has started to form. No one has declared it yet; but the first messages that are appearing – hidden messages – are of Erdoğan’s inevitable isolation. This was actually his choice, because he imposed the one-man system, he did not want to share his power with anyone.  If he had continued to be strong he may have been able to keep this up; yet from the moment that it became clear that he was not as strong as people thought him to be – and the latest example of this was experienced on the June 23 elections – people, politicians – certain people within the government and certain institutions will also join them – have started to put a distance between themselves and Erdoğan.

For example, the first and easiest factor that comes to mind: we are seeing that the “presidential governance system” that is peculiar to Turkey is being seriously debated. There is a debate from within. There are different opinions being voiced from within the AKP government about not necessarily changing the system, but revising the system. What needs to be revised here is not with regards to Turkey being managed better – what needs to be revised here is for Erdoğan to step out of this reality, this ‘trap’, that he has created himself. This is to say, only one election was important in this system – the presidential system – the one person who received just one point above 50 was to have all the ruling rights over Turkey – and this is currently being experienced – and Erdoğan brought this system into life thinking that he would be able to keep this up, he imposed it with the support of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Yet, June 23 showed us that it may not be possible for Erdoğan to receive a 50+1 vote – in the position that he is in now, it doesn’t look possible. Therefore, he is presenting the opposition with this opportunity and is panicking. This revision issue is not about Turkey being managed better; these revisions that are being discussed are certain precautions in the face of concerns that Erdoğan has with regards to being elected again. But I don’t think they can come into play after this. There are certain mentions being made such as the parliament being strengthened, the council of ministers being changed, ministers being chosen from amongst members of parliament. But even if these happen, these initiatives won’t stand in the way of Erdoğan losing; they may only allow him space to breathe, may prevent the actual problems being debated. Because, the genie has left the bottle, and Erdoğan is experiencing this loss in an incredibly fast manner.

We know that the opposition has been criticising the presidential governance system, but there have been some people within the government that have joined in these criticisms and most importantly in the group meeting today, the MHP leader Bahçeli gave certain “signals” in this respect, some hidden messages. He was one who had defended this system the most; but since he has seen how fragile it is, since he has had to accept this, even Bahçeli may support the revision or the change of this system. I want to touch on another issue here – having mentioned Bahçeli: in order for Erdoğan to continue with this system, he always needs allies. It was like this from the beginning, despite the fact that he came to power alone, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) always had to make allies, in one way or another.

Even if they have the majority in parliament, they have always created certain allies with different fractions due to the resistance within. They are in a constant alliance with the West – in fact Israel was included in this -, in order to dispose of the resistance from within the system, they needed support from the international system, they created a coalition with them. They created alliances with different environments within Turkey – sometimes with the Kurds, sometimes with liberals etc. Most importantly they created an alliance with Fetullah Gülen.

And they also ended these alliances themselves, we never witnessed an ally putting an end to these alliances. Erdoğan, making certain calculations, ended certain alliances and started new ones. Most recently we see that for a certain time he has been in an alliance with Bahçeli. But this alliance isn’t working any longer; it doesn’t look like the support that Erdoğan needs can be provided through the AKP+MHP. Second of all, I don’t think that Bahçeli is very happy with this situation due to the economic crisis impacting himself and his party. From the July 23 elections onwards – and let’s remember that Bahçeli was even more insistent than Erdoğan for them to be repeated – it is not far-fetched to imagine that Bahçeli will also slowly place a distance between himself and Erdoğan.  But in any instance Erdoğan + Bahçeli is not enough, and there is no guarantee that this relationship will continue.

This time, this aspect of isolation comes up: the chance of Erdoğan finding allies is slim. Who is he going to form an alliance with? The Good Party (İYİ Parti) was mentioned at some point, I mentioned them, but now, after the stinging defeat experienced on the June 23 elections, I don’t think any party will want to form an alliance with Erdoğan. They will let him experience this loss and will calculate how to bring to life formulas that do not include Erdoğan – there is indeed such a probability. I don’t think that Erdoğan will be able to find an alliance so easily – not inside or outside. Because he is no longer the winner, the undefeatable; he is a loser, a defeated Erdoğan and therefore even if he would want to enter an alliance with someone, they will want to give little and take a lot more. To what degree will Erdoğan consent to this?

Another factor is that due to Erdoğan’s previous experiences, he does not appear very reliable. There will be many apprehensions regarding this lack of reliability. The greatest isolation will firstly be experienced through not being able to form alliances; yet, another is an individual isolation. We have been discussing this for a while: New parties are being formed from within the AKP. Ali Babacan on one hand and Ahmet Davutoğlu on the other and the numbers of those people that will walk besides then looks as if will increase as a result of Erdoğan’s loss. Other parties may also emerge, or some may break away from the AKP and wane towards other political formations.

Erdoğan is face to face with such a risk, and his performance so far in order to get rid of this situation does not foster any hope. What has he done? He has gathered some familiar people beside him, he has appointed them to boards of consultancies and banks; yet there aren’t that many people among these people who are dynamic and able to change a lot. Maybe we can mention Bülent Arınç, but everyone else – I don’t think that they can change much even if they decide to actively join in politics.

Another aspect that is being discussed is: “If Erdoğan leaves his position as party head, that would be a good thing.” We can see that this is also being voiced from within too. It is mentioned in Abdülkadir Selvi’s writing: “Let him be a member of a party, but not the party head.” What good will this do? I’m not sure. Let’s say Erdoğan left the position of party head to Binali Yıldırım, will he have stopped managing the party? No. Will he stop being a partisan President? No, nothing like this will happen, and no one is expecting this of him. Therefore, these showcase fixes won’t be able to convince anyone.

So, how can he come out of this? I don’t think there can be an escape from this situation. I think that it is getting less and less likely that Erdoğan can fix his own crisis’s. Especially after what was experienced on June 23, this crisis, if we think about how open this loss was, those who have seen him being defeated will no longer want to help him. This crisis is not a crisis that Erdoğan can resolve on his own, he does not have enough strength for this. If he has this strength, he would have won the Istanbul elections; we have seen that he does not have this power. He needs supporters; he needs new ideas, new figures, a new image, support from his fractions, serious alliances, teams, new individuals, he needs to regain the trust of people. But at this point, after everything that has been experienced, I don’t think he can achieve this.

Today, there were some that said that Erdoğan would offer Ali Babacan strengthened Vice Presidency position, Hande Fırat wrote about this. I really don’t think that this is possible. I also don’t think that Erdoğan will think about such a thing, even if he thinks about it, I don’t think that Ali Babacan will accept this position right now. Trains have already past, some people – Babacan is one of them, and Davutoğlu is also showing us day by day that he is one of them – are going to choose their own path. These are only going to speed up Erdoğan’s loss.

In conclusion, Erdoğan, who has gathered all the power for himself, who has constructed an authoritative regime combined with different factors that have arisen, has entered a deep crisis. He cannot manage the country any longer; it’s been like this for a long time, but this is clearly seen now and as the crisis depends, as his defeat deepens, he is becoming more and more isolated. One time he had preferred acting alone, now it is becoming his fate. Even if he wanted to keep certain people by his side, people to keep beside him, help him and resolve his problems, it doesn’t seem possible for me that he would be able to convince them, benefit from them and it doesn’t look likely they would be able to resolve this crisis. He determined his fate, just like anybody else.

Yes, that’s all I have to say, good day. 

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