By throwing stones at Imamoglu, the Gray Wolves may have deprived Erdogan of the election

By | May 9, 2023

We are less than 150 hours away from knowing who will be the new president of Turkey. Citizens of countries around the world, with dual Turkish citizenship, voted in the previous term and on Sunday, May 14, those within Turkey’s borders will complete the process.

Kemal’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has become a serious challenge to the omnipotence of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Although many still see Erdogan as a strong leader, 20 years of controversial economic and political decisions may cost him another term.

The scandals that came to light, following the tragedy of the two earthquakes in Kahramanmaras, which devastated ten cities, killed tens of thousands of citizens and left hundreds of thousands more homeless, were a wake-up call to Turkish citizens about the situation in Turkey. has reached.

And yet, there is a strong possibility that the damage to the Turkish president, if he loses the election, was caused by a less important incident (compared to the previous one).

Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayor who twice defeated Erdogan’s pick, Turkey’s last prime minister Binali Yildirim, in elections for the top spot in the Istanbul metropolitan municipality, was delivering a speech in Erzurum, a city on the imaginary border of the Pontus , which is considered extremely Erdogan and not Erdogan party progressive. There, although several hundred people gathered to listen to Turkey’s vice-presidential candidate on behalf of the opposition, there were also those with other orders.

About 200 people gathered in a square, less than 20 meters behind the bus in which Imamoglu was speaking to the people, and breaking up the pavement and perimeter of the square, they began to throw stones and huge chunks of cement at Imamoglu. His entourage opened umbrellas trying to protect him. The mayor of Istanbul himself dismissed the policemen from the microphone, telling them “you sit and watch us throw stones at us, but we also see you.” At the same time, he was shouting through the loudspeakers to the governor of the province because he had sent him a message not to worry and that there are 5,000 police officers there to protect him if something happens. It is clear from the videos that there were no more than 20 policemen and they did not move from their positions around the Imamoglu bus.

The mayor of Istanbul fled immediately, waited for two and a half hours at the Erzurum airport and after a long time returned to Istanbul where the party apparatus in a very rapid mobilization organized a political rally in the evening with the participation of tens of thousands of people.

The hero’s welcome given to him by his supporters may be indicative of a huge mistake on Erdogan’s part.

Imamoglu is the new star of Türkiye’s political scene. His rhetoric catches up with and surpasses that of the Turkish president, whom he considers a “master” in addressing the Turkish population. The timbre of his voice is reminiscent of Erdogan and his level of populism, though subject to improvement, is among the highest in Turkey. He is young. He has the air of a winner. In front of him there is a Turkish president who, even if he is re-elected, has closed the circle, but also a Kemal Kilicdaroglu who does not see the political future ahead of him either, since he is already 74 years old. Sooner or later everything indicates that he will be the next (or one of the next) presidents of Turkey. The people who see in his face Turkey’s evolution into something better than Erdogan’s regressive, constantly angry Islamist creation know this.

Imamoglu’s popularity is at such high levels in Turkey that, in order not to alienate opposition voters who wanted him as a presidential candidate, Kilicdaroglu recruited him as one of the central figures in his election campaign. Obviously, knowing the above, Imamoglou plays the role of him perfectly.

The attack in Erzurum was definitely carried out by people who support the Gray Wolves and Devlet Bakhceli’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The flags they are holding can be seen and no one from Bahceli’s or Erdogan’s party has denied their involvement. The opposition was quick to exploit the fact, presenting it as “an attack on Imamoglu by the Gray Wolves and Hüda-Par”, the Hezbollah-linked party. Both are Erdogan’s electoral associates.

Turkey’s Interior Minister, the all-powerful Suleyman Soylu, accused the opposition of inciting violence in Erzurum. According to the minister, Imamoglu Dilek’s wife provoked the crowd because she had made the victory sign at another rally last week. The gesture, Soylu said, was in reference to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). “The people of Erzurum are particularly sensitive to patriotic issues. If you go to these cities and provoke them, God forbid,” Soylou said Sunday night.

A day later, Erdogan accused the opposition of inciting riots and supporting terrorists in a speech a week before the country’s crucial presidential election. Erdogan hinted that his political opponents were the ones inciting the crowd to riot, implicitly arguing that the opposition should not go to a place with pure AKP voters.

The two worlds, the reactionary-extremist-Islamic and the progressive-secular, have spent months in the trenches with the opposition camp calling for a Gandhi-style campaign, calling on their voters not to respond to provocations. Imamoglu participated in another rally yesterday, in Iconium, which is also an AKP stronghold. “They can throw stones at us, but we will respond with roses,” he said. “The rioters will learn the nation’s lesson first at the polls and then be tried in independent courts for their crimes,” he added.

After the attack, Erzurum AKP MP Selami Altinok wrote on social media: “Thank you Erzurum” and AKP MP candidate, also in Erzurum, Emin Öz posted a post saying: “You deserve all the praise, Erzurum.” However, both deleted their posts after the reactions. AKP (MKYK) Central Decision Council and Executive Committee member and Vice President for Advocacy and Media Emre Cemil Ayvali said in a since-deleted post: “In democracies, supporters of terrorism are not treated in the same way as the citizens”.

The last event is a challenge for all secularists. It’s a dirty blow against a man they consider their own. A man that young Turks who know nothing but the Erdogan government have begun to see as someone who could bring light to his dark daily life.

Furthermore, the government invariably accuses the Kurds of being terrorists. At the same time, Erdogan is embracing the Hezbollah party, and indeed, a few days ago, released a former leader of the organization’s military arm from prison.

The two previous elements constitute an inequality, in which the smaller part is Erdogan, his government and his coalition. The attack on Imamoglu by the terrorists is an event that, while it does not seem to act as a call to mobilize the entire secular population of Turkey, may be the icing on the cake that will end the 20-year rule of the Islamists. . president of Turkey, in favor of a government probably more secular and less angry.

Petros Kranias

Read more:

* Elections in Turkey: Fears of “shady” practices Erdogan, Hezbollah and the heroine of the Gray Wolves

* Elections in Turkey: Erdogan pardons the head of Hezbollah’s military wing

* Elections in Türkiye: Aksener confirms Erdogan’s meeting with Ocalan

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