Turkey facing key election
Three days before the Turkish parliamentary elections the human rights organisation Reporters Without Borders has called on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to stop harassing opposition media. The fate of the country's democracy is at stake, commentators point out, and hope the left-leaning pro-Kurdish HDP will make it into parliament.
Erdoğan must not secure even more power
A two-thirds majority for the AKP and the resulting option for President Erdoğan to change the constitution would be a catastrophe for Turkey, the conservative daily Financial Times believes: "At a time of polarisation inside the country and the jihadist threat lapping at its borders with Syria and Iraq, and in light of the president's increasingly wilful and authoritarian behaviour, giving the AKP a majority big enough for Mr Erdogan to rewrite the constitution and fashion an executive presidency in his image would be bad for Turkey. ... He has leeched power from the cabinet, ridden roughshod over the law, and persecuted the media and private businesses. It would be disastrous were he to accumulate further power - and the means to bulldoze the few remaining checks to his exercising it."
Turks must defend democracy
President Erdoğan's ploy of turning the Turkish parliamentary elections into a referendum on his presidential system is an all-or-nothing strategy, the centre-left daily Frankfurter Rundschau believes: "Voters are much less interested in the presidential system than in the money in their wallets - which is dwindling by the day - and the dramatically high unemployment figures. ... Waste is the Achilles' heel of this president, who ran for election on the promise of eradicating corruption. ... Turkey will decide on its future on Sunday: Central Asian autocracy or European democracy. This time we will see whether the opposition manages to mobilise voters, and whether the Turks are mature enough to recognise the importance of the vote and defend their democracy."
Only Kurds can stop the sultan
Turkey's fate is in the hands of the Kurds, the liberal business paper Il Sole 24 Ore observes: "Just before the election on Sunday that will decide whether the the pasha of politics Erdoğan also becomes the sultan of a presidential republic, he has clearly overstepped the mark that made his European ambitions still seem credible. Because Erdoğan, like Putin in Russia, will stop at nothing to discredit his opponent. He has condemned the critical voices of the media and opposition politicians as traitors to national interests in the service of the Western powers. Nonetheless the AKP will win the election. But the crucial question for Erdoğan is the following: will he achieve the majority he needs to change the constitution? The polls show the HDP at 10 percent. That means it will all depend on a handful of Kurdish votes."
AKP attacks prompted by fear of election fiasco
This week saw three attacks against the pro-Kurdish left-wing HDP in which one person was killed and at least two others injured. Erdoğan accused the "Armenian lobby", homosexuals and the Doğan media group of inciting the masses on Wednesday. The numerous attacks by Erdoğan and the ruling AKP against Kurds and Armenians in particular testify to his fear of losing votes in Sunday's election, the weekly of the Armenian authority Agos concludes: "The AKP is used to ruling alone as a strong party and the mere possibility that it could lose that supremacy is causing it to resort to pretty crude, racist and discriminatory language. It won't have a problem using strongly sexist and degrading arguments either. The last few weeks have shown us that, faced with the prospect of losing their absolute majority, the AKP and its collaborators are even ready to depict the election itself as an attempted coup."