Local elections in Turkey: a tense AKP
Local elections will be held in Turkey this Sunday. Once again the AKP and the far-right MHP have joined forces as the "Popular Alliance". But this time the opposition alliance around the CHP also stands a fair chance. In Ankara the alliance will oust the AKP after 15 years in power, according to forecasts. Istanbul is also in a neck-and-neck race. The ruling AKP is pretty tense about the situation, commentators write.
Risky game for just a few votes
The fact that Erdoğan proposed turning the Hagia Sophia into a mosque again in an interview shows how nervous the AKP is, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung:
“Erdoğan has proven willing even to raze a symbol of the secular republic for the sake of winning votes. ... With this gesture the president is trying to gain the support of the ultra-nationalists and Islamists. ... The Turkish historian İlber Ortaylı said that Turkey should be proud of having turned the Hagia Sophia into a museum because in doing so it showed respect for foreign cultures. Erdoğan is now risking this respect for a few votes. He probably won't dare to touch the Hagia Sophia world heritage site. But he has ennobled the agitators. Now he won't be able to get rid of them anymore.”
New Turkey won't be created in court
In the run-up to the local elections the Tages-Anzeiger draws attention to the thousands of trials against political opponents of President Erdoğan:
“Nowadays people in Turkey stand a better chance of running into each other in court than anywhere else. When you stand before the judge you have to ask: Just what is this country so afraid of? Certainly, those behind the July 2016 coup left the country in shock and knocked it off balance. But Turkey has survived so many crises. Yet seldom has the state been so afraid of its citizens, seldom have neighbours so mistrusted one another. Erdoğan wanted a new Turkey. It's not about to emerge in the courtrooms.”
Are we just pretending to be a democracy?
The Turkish Interior Ministry has accused more than 300 opposition candidates of having ties to terrorists. President Erdoğan announced that they would be put on trial after the election. Karar is shocked:
“So they're allowed to run for election but they're not allowed to win? That would mean that if they lose, they're innocent, but if they win there's a problem and they'll be treated like criminals and their right to be elected will be suspended? ... The attempt to change the government at the local level is being equated with conspiring against the government and terrorism. The following question would now be a trump card for the opposition: Why do we bother setting up polling stations and holding pseudo-elections? Are we just pretending to be a democracy?”