Political and economic dynamics before elections

It is no secret that supporters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) believe the 13-year rule of former Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened an unprecedented phase in Turkish history.
The country has indeed come a long way in the last decade in areas such as civil-military relations, healthcare, infrastructure, fiscal discipline and municipal services. Critics of the AKP believe, on the other hand, that Erdoganand’s understanding of democracy is based on a populist notion of winning elections. To them, this is a majoritarian and electoral understanding that comes at the expense of pluralism and liberalism. Such electoral autocracy does not pay attention to freedom of speech, the rule of law and the separation of powers, thus condemning Turkey to the second-class category of democracies. For them, this is exactly why Erdoganand’s andquotNew Turkeyandquot resembles the old one, when the military used to call the shots. In other words, the old type of authoritarianism has been replaced by a new one. Under Kemalism, Turkey faced the tyranny of the minority now, under Erdogan, the new system is characterized by the tyranny of the majority. Erdoganand’s critics are equally skeptical about Turkeyand’s economic success. Although it is hard to argue against the fact that the country is a more prosperous place compared to the 1980s and 1990s, the corruption scandals revealed that andquotNew Turkeyandquot is still plagued by political networks of tender-fixing, influence-peddling, patronage and cronyism corruption is indeed still systemic. The West, mainly the United States and the European Union, agree with Erdoganand’s critics. One can hardly find a single editorial in Western media praising the countryand’s democratic standards. Instead, the focus has been on Erdoganand’s autocratic tendencies, corruption scandals, bans imposed on freedom of expression and the absence of an independent media. There seems to be a general consensus that Erdoganand’s increasingly authoritarian style has eroded the positive image of the Turkish model, which only a few years ago was praised. Under such circumstances, the question that most Westerners ask is simple: Why is increasingly authoritarian Erdogan still winning elections? A class-based, socioeconomic analysis provides the most convincing answer. The AKP voters come from the largest segments of Turkish society: the urban-rural poor as well as the lower middle-class aspiring to upper middle-class status. These masses amount to probably 60 to 70 percent of Turkish society. In their eyes, bread-and-butter problems take precedence over freedom of expression, political freedoms, the independence of the media, crony capitalism or the separation of powers. What really matters for most of these voters are economic services and living standards. The fact that they come from conservative and nationalist backgrounds and share Erdoganand’s patriarchal and patronizing outlook is the icing on the cake. The Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP) has finally realized that the best way to campaign against the AKP is to prioritize the economy and engage in an equally populist economic narrative prioritizing bread-and-butter issues and services. This is a positive development that has put an end to years of focus on secularism and fear of political Islam. However, there is one major risk in the current economic campaign of the main opposition party.
The CHP should know that the AKPand’s economic strategy worked as long as cheap credit and low interest rates were available. Borrowing continued, with the difference that it switched from the public sector to the private sector. This is not very good news for the CHP because borrowing is now becoming much more difficult due to global monetary tightening.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman