Having worked every trick to ensure that the Supreme Electoral Board (YSK) will annul the results of the March 31 municipal elections, one can assume safely that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has already started work to ensure that it will win the rerun of the elections on June 23.
The alternative would be a second and perhaps much worse loss than was incurred on March 31 and that would leave the AKP looking doubly bad, which is clearly something that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cannot afford.
It appears that losing Istanbul entails too many risks for the AKP for the matter to be left to its own resources. Many are convinced that if the AKP were to lose Istanbul to the opposition, after having held it – with its precursor – for 25 years, a hornet’s nest of vested interests, corruption, and abuse of power would be revealed.
There is no other explanation for the AKP to leave all democratic propriety, or rather what was left of it in this country, aside and accept the negative image that it has now incurred in the eyes of the world at large.
There is also no point in members of the AKP hiding behind the mask of arguing that it was not they, but the YSK that annulled the elections.
It was after all the AKP that initiated the whole process with the flimsiest of arguments, and, as mentioned above, worked whatever influence it had behind the scenes to ensure that it got what it wanted.
As matter stand many clean and honest AKP supporters also, not to mention key members of the party such as former President Abdullah Gul, and former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, are highlighting the blow our democracy has now sustained as a result of the annulment of the oppositions victory in Istanbul.
We are also at a point where staunch supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in he media, who are imbued with a sense of political correctitude, are having their commentary in pro-government papers spiked because they find it hard to swallow what the YSK has done.
It is clear that from now on the AKP is no longer the AKP that it was prior to March 31. Even if it should win the elections on June 23, which is by no means a foregone conclusion, it will still have lost.
A party that has constantly reminded us of the sacrosanct nature of the ballot box will no longer be able to claim moral and political rectitude. Domestically and in the eyes of the world it will be no more than a party that has won elections by questionable means.
The economic turmoil that the YSK has now contributed to will also be much more difficult for the government to handle, as domestic and international confidence in its ability to govern fairly and according to the rules will have been further eroded.
Erdogan was hoping to win the elections on March 31 in a strong way in order to reinforce his mandate and continue imposing his unique vision on Turkey, even if this vision is not shared by half the population.
Instead he will have to spend the next 4.5 years, until the next presidential and parliamentary elections, trying to cope with problems of his government’s making.
In the meantime he will have to cope with members of his party who have a conscience and are disgruntled about what their party and its leadership have become, compared to what they set out to be.
This will most likely result in the formation of new political parties that will emerge from within his own party and which will be led by some of his closest former political fellow travelers.
Many are characterizing the situation that Erdogan has landed himself in as a “lose-lose” situation, which appears to sum up the state of current affairs succinctly.
Had he done the politically correct thing and accepted the defeat in Istanbul nobly he would have elevated his moral stature. As matters stand he and his party have been tainted and it is difficult to understand how they expect to reap any benefits from this.