The AKP’s fear and the coming collapse

The other day, bombs went off simultaneously in the Adana and Mersin bureaus of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), injuring six people, three quite seriously. It was pure luck that no one was killed. Since the start of the election period, more than 100 attacks on HDP bureaus have occurred, but the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has issued no public condemnation, has made no attempt to catch those responsible and has taken no precautions to prevent further attacks.

With little time left before the June 7 election, it is quite clear that the aggressive rhetoric President Recep Tayyip Erdogan employs against the HDP at campaign rallies — where he has even referred to the party as an extension of a terrorist group — cannot be viewed as independent from these attacks. The government bears serious political responsibilities at this juncture, though it is clear for all to see that they have embraced a stance that provokes and even encourages attacks against the HDP.

The HDP is forging ahead, prepared to surpass the 10 percent electoral threshold — a product of the Sept. 12, 1980 coup — that has served as an impediment for many years. This would mean that the AKP would be unable to pick up an additional 60 seats in Parliament. It also would serve as a threat to the AKP’s plans for a single-party government, and this is, in short, what is making the AKP and Erdogan crazy these days.

When the time came for the ruling party to make some solid progress on the ongoing peace process, it became very clear that the AKP was unprepared, having, in fact, no clear vision of a lasting peace with the Kurds. This is why Erdogan’s direct interventions led to the shelving of the peace process. He understood that the ambiguity surrounding the peace process was costing him votes, and he figured he could prevent some worried nationalist and conservative voters from leaning towards the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) by turning against the peace process.

But have his maneuvers really been successful in preventing a move of nationalist votes over to the MHP? From poll results and Erdogan’s mood, it is apparent that events are not unfolding as he had hoped. And of course, the most significant result of the shelving of the peace process has turned out to be that Kurdish voters who had previously supported the AKP in elections are now turning to the HDP. This is very clear, and is the reason behind the aggressive rhetoric being employed against the HDP.

It is also the reason behind previously unseen exploitation of religious sensitivities, and behind public statements from those in AKP inner circles, all echoing some version of “We’re not going to allow Erdogan to be executed.” In fact, the death sentence handed down recently to the overturned leader of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, is now being used as material for domestic politics. All of this is actually very interesting, from the perspective of examining just how imbalanced the ruling AKP and Erdogan have become.

The attacks against the HDP election bureaus are simple provocations. The aim behind these attacks is to trigger similar attacks against AKP bureaus in cities and towns where the HDP is strong. If these retributive acts occur, things would get tense everywhere, providing justification for anti-HDP rhetoric. It’s clear that those who planned these attacks were waiting and hoping for violent retaliation from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

All these plans and calculations are falling apart, and in the end, it appears the only actor left on the political stage actually working to destroy the calm is the ruling party itself. I’m certain that the people of Turkey perceive this reality.

Ballot boxes do not only serve as places where people can vote for the ruling party — votes can bring parties to power or take them down. Ruling Turkey, and remaining in power, is not the AKP’s “destiny.” It is not Turkey’s “destiny” to have the AKP in power. This is a simple reality that the AKP does not wish to accept, because they know that once they fall from power, they can finally be tried for their crimes. Their safety zone will be disrupted. They will fall apart.

Because they know this, the AKP has become aggressive, and is enveloped in a dangerous mentality. They will not easily be pulled out of their seats of power. This is evident in the rhetoric being used against the HDP.

What is also evident, however, is that neither the power of the state nor any dark plans will be enough to stop their coming collapse.