In the middle ages, we are at the land of Westeros and Essos; and, there is the continuing civil war between the houses of Westeros, each vying for the Iron Throne and control of the Seven Kingdoms.
Khaleesi, the eye-catching beauty of the Targaryens, is putting forward her strategy in the war to her ally Tyrion Lannister in an ice cold manner:
“Khaleesi: Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, Stark, Tyrell they’re all just spokes on a wheel. This ones on top, then that ones on top and on and on it spins crushing those on the ground.
Tyrion: It’s a beautiful dream, stopping the wheel. You’re not the first person who’s ever dreamt it.
Khaleesi: I’m not going to stop the wheel; I’m going to break the wheel.”
The scene quoted is from the American television series Game of Thrones, which takes place on fictional continents of Westeros and Essos in a setting very similar to the Middle Ages of Earth. The series has often been used to explain interactions between states, organizations, and individuals around the world that are not always reachable in daily life. In the quoted dialogue what Khaleesi intends to do is to end the Game of Thrones by replacing it with something better, reliable, and firmly founded with the support and approval of the governed; and when she rules, she will actually be different from those who ruled before. The wheel represents the wheel of power; as the throne passes from Targaryen to Targaryen with the help of Houses at Westeros lands, crushing those on its path who are too poor to be part of it. Tyrion, too, mentions the fear created by his family (the Targaryens) saying “Fear is all that Cersei has. It’s what my father and Joffrey had. It makes their power brittle,”
Istanbul: A sui generis city
In the last two weeks after the local elections, the Turkish public witnessed a stiff battle in the political arena over Istanbul’s results. However, the opposition alliance has also experienced different problems over the results, objections, documentation, etc. from all corners of Turkey. Although Istanbul is not Turkey’s administrative capital, it has been historical, commercial and cultural center with its large population over 15 million, therefore, it has always been an indicator of political trends in elections. Istanbul has been governed by the same team since 1994; first by Erdoğan with the Welfare Party, than by AKP (Justice and Development Party). You might say that winning in Istanbul is also the prestige of Erdoğan because he started his political career there and any loss of AKP will hit President Erdoğan especially hard and be highly personal. The metropolis was his political cradle, and Istanbul has always been his mesmerizing story of political survival. Erdogan will have unleashed a dynamic wave that will shatter his apparently invincible rule.
The formal recognition by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) of Imamoglu’s victory on April 17 appears to put an end to the endless series of objections to the Istanbul race by the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party). However, the country is still waiting for the response of the YSK to the requests of the AKP for a complete re-run of the Istanbul elections. It is likely that AKP will continue to pursue every trick in the book to stop control of CHP (People’s Republican Party) over Istanbul. And even though the AKP in Istanbul does not overturn the outcome, it has plenty of weapons to confront the administration of Imamoglu. As President Erdogan said during the election night, even if the opposition wins Istanbul, “they will never be able to rule it,” By withholding funding for critical projects and infrastructure, the government can make life difficult for opposition-led municipalities. In addition, the AKP (Justice and Development Party) could force through parliamentary decisions and executive decrees to give more power to President. Obviously, aforementioned strategy would galvanize the polarization in the society and increase the anger among opposition circles. On the other hand, from an optimistic point of view, President Erdoğan can accept the defeat in Istanbul by minimizing the victory of the opposition – i.e. by mentioning the narrow difference between votes – and focusing on Turkey’s enormous problems such as economic crisis; in any case, presidential elections are four and a half years ahead.
What is next?
The victory in Istanbul apparently gave the strongly pressured opposition segments a sigh of relief and clearly implies that the opposition groups in Turkey have a historic opportunity to calm down tension and put an end to polarization. However, the opposition groups, are not homogeneous; some follow the love of homeland, their republic, and deep love for the founding leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his revolutions, while some prioritize all kinds of ethnic and religious rights, and some merely seek an independent, democratic, secular state; or different combinations of all. But the opposition groups should gather around pluralism, rule of law, and democratic values in order to achieve the goal of winning the presidential elections; not around being against President Erdoğan and the things he represents. The opposition has a big victory at the end of the day; but the ruling party is all willing to strike back. Therefore, it is definitely necessary to maintain the new conciliatory, embracing, tolerant and unifying narrative that is accepted by the majority of society.
The Iron Throne
The next presidential election is the “Iron Throne.” On 2023, Turkey will go to the ballots voting for the president and MPs unless we get a snap election. Until that day, the opposition parties’ mayors should focus on local-level projects and solutions, no matter what obstacles the governing party will bring. Definitely hard work will pay off. And, the opposition block parties should remember breaking the wheels, not stopping them. To change the established system from top to bottom; pluralism, democracy and rule of law will be enough with the new narrative. The atmosphere of fear created by the rhetoric of “survival / state existence” or “terrorist / traitor” accusations can only be healed by uniting, and as Tyrion Targaryen says, “Fear makes power brittle.”
“Winter is coming” in Westeros land. This is not Westeros, though. This is Anatolia. Hope is blooming, it is spring here!
Other highlights from past week
- Kılıçdaroğlu attacked at soldier’s funeral
A crowd attacked Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the CHP (Republican People’s Party) in Çubuk, a suburb of Ankara. Kılıçdaroğlu attended a funeral ceremony of a Turkish soldier who had fallen during military operations on the border between Turkey and Iraq. Before attacking him, the group at the funeral sang slogans against the outlawed PKK, and camera footage showed the mobs trying to punch and kick the politician. At the scene, security personnel tried to shove the mob aside in order to clear a path to his car. As a result of the incident, Kılıçdaroğlu reportedly sustained no injuries and was taken to a safe place guarded by the police.
In a speech later outside CHP headquarters, Kilicdaroglu said the attack was against Turkey’s unity.
- Demirtaş evaluated election results
Selahattin Demirtas, the former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, evaluated the election outcomes in The Washington Post on April 19, 2019.
“We believe that these elections have shown the way forward. If the government continues its authoritarian course, however, I worry that deeper political and economic crises are on the way,”
“”Erdogan, who rightly viewed the elections as a referendum on his rule, suffered a humiliating defeat. His party lost control of five of the largest cities in the country…”
- Imamoğlu received mayoral mandate
Istanbul’s CHP candidate, Ekrem Imamoğlu, took office on April 17, 2019 as Istanbul mayor. However, the ruling party’s annulment application continues to be assessed by the Supreme Elections Board (YSK). AKP claims local elections in Istanbul had irregularities.