The Economist’s support for HDP

It did not get the attention it deserves, but last weekand’s endorsement of the Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP) by The Economist was a remarkable choice for more than one reason.
Here we have one of the most influential global magazines, known for its defense of liberal economic and democratic values, calling on Turks to vote for a party that favors leftist economic policies the magazine strongly opposes and that has only recently started to champion the kind of democratic pluralism The Economist traditionally supports. What happened?
Aising Turks and other people how to vote in upcoming parliamentary elections is a well-developed Economist tradition. In the case of Turkey, the magazine suggested that Turkish voters in 2007 re-elect the Justice and Development Party (AKP) for two reasons: to clearly reject the armyand’s April 27 intervention and to reward the AKP because, as The Economist put it, and”Mr. Erdoganand’s government has been Turkeyand’s most successful in half a century.and” Four years later, the same journalists were afraid the AKP would become too powerful and would be tempted to modify the Turkish Constitution on its own. In order to prevent such unilateral changes, they therefore recommended that Turks vote for the Republican Peopleand’s Partyand’s (CHP).
Now, in 2015, The Economist favored another party for reasons that have little to do with the program of the HDP. According to The Economist, President and former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has wasted most of his previous achievements that were applauded before by many in Turkey and abroad. Economic growth has slowed down sharply, Turkeyand’s foreign policy has failed and the Kurdish peace process has stalled. On top of that, Erdogan has become increasingly intolerant, nationalist, anti-Western and autocratic. The Economist is afraid that with Erdogan in the job, the Turkish style of presidency without checks and balances he prefers could swiftly slide towards authoritarianism. In the eyes of the magazineand’s editors, the best way to stop this undesirable development would be for the HDP to pass the 10 percent threshold: and”If it got into the parliament, there would be a double benefit: the way the political maths work, Mr. Erdogan would probably have to abandon the executive presidency, and the Kurdish peace process would gain a welcome boost. Turks should give their votes to the HDP.and”
As was to be expected, this open support from abroad for the HDP was quickly presented by some pro-government circles as part of the same international conspiracy against Turkey that was also responsible for the Gezi Park protests and the December 2013 corruption claims. Other AKP-friendly commentators tried, again, to brush off the old Orientalism accusations. In his attack on The New York Times, which criticized Erdogan and the ruling party on the same points The Economist did, Daily Sabah columnist Markar Esayan said there is no democracy problem in Turkey. The reason The New York Times and The Economist criticize Turkey, according to Esayan, and”stems from the fact that Turkey has stopped acting as if it were a banana republic.and” In other words, badly intended and informed foreigners refuse to see how far Turkey has come and canand’t stand the fact that Turkey has become a confident global player that no longer takes orders.
The tragic misperception here, based on self-delusion, is that, without exception, all the former friends of Turkey abroad, in politics and in the media, are convinced Turkey is not moving in the right direction, but in the wrong one.
Whether one reads the pre-election analyses in the European or American press or listens to politicians known for their long-standing pro-Turkey commitment, all of them subscribe to the kind of sober and negative assessment made by both The New York Times and The Economist.
With only a few days to go, it is unavoidable that friendly aice from outsiders that does not fit in the current electoral grandstanding is being swept aside or ridiculed. I am afraid that denialist attitude is not going to change with those who have fully committed themselves to defending each and every move by the current AKP leadership. The same applies to the around 35 percent of the electorate that still believes in Erdogan and his New Turkey.
Crucial, however, in these elections will be the 10-15 percent of voters who used to vote for the AKP but are in doubt now. They realize something has gone wrong since 2011 and are looking around how to best send that signal. At least some of them will take the aice of The Economist very seriously.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman