What do you expect to happen in the elections? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Easier or harder times ahead? Why?
It is very difficult to predict the outcome of the elections because most polls show a very tight race between the two main presidential candidates. However, both the polls and the way the electoral campaigns are unfolding suggest that the opposition candidate is inching ahead. Whether this will be enough to ensure a decisive victory is still not clear.
I personally fail to see much light at the end of the tunnel in the sense of the opposition candidate winning the elections, because the country is brutally split into opposing sides. There are swing voters in the middle, it’s difficult to put an exact figure, constituting about 12 to 15% of the electorate. Some are hesitant defectors from Erdogan’s coalition. The majority of them support the two other presidential candidates. This does not bode well for the main opposition candidate Kilicdaroglu, unless at the last minute they decide to change their vote in his favor.
It is only then that Kilicdaroglu would enjoy a large enough majority to preempt a repeat of what happened in the local Istanbul elections in March 2019, when Erdogan simply did not accept the defeat of his candidate. Indeed if such a scenario unfolds, I foresee very hard times ahead for Turkey.
It is the Turkish Republic’s 100th anniversary this year. How can we explain why TR has tumbled into this massive crisis at every level?
This is a tough question to answer without having to write a book about it. At the risk of oversimplifying: Turkey with its state, its political system, and its civil society failed to consolidate its democracy with basic institutions.
The political culture to sustain a pluralist understanding of democracy never really emerged, and if it did it was not allowed to grow roots. Beyond this basic reason there are also external reasons.
I would need more lines if not paragraphs to put this convincingly but the West, that is the democratic world, never embraced Turkey, let’s say, as much as it has embraced Cyprus, Greece, Spain, or Portugal.
What is the recipe for a stable and peaceful Turkey, given the culture, demographic changes, and the global instability?
I only see one path to a stable and peaceful Turkey—resuscitating the basic institutions of democracy: rule of law, freedom of expression, civil liberties, and civil society.
This would need to be accompanied by two additional requirements: a willingness to accept and learn to live with the diversity of identities that defines/makes up Turkish society, and a resolution for the root causes of anti-Westernism.
Both could follow from resuscitating democracy, but the latter one needs a recognition that for all its problems at this time of “global instability” Turkey’s peace, stability, and prosperity is much more likely to be achieved with the West and not with the autocratic world.