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Turkey heads for snap elections

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Turkey will head into its second parliamentary election in five months, amid uncertainty due to escalating violence within its borders.

With snap polls slated for November , Sevgi Akarçeşme, a columnist for the Zaman newspaper, the largest selling daily in Turkey, says that this is a repeat election.

“Even though it is called snap elections, it is being repeated mainly because President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was not happy with the results of the June elections.”

The elections in June was the 24th general election in the history of the Turkish Republic, electing the country’s 25th Parliament. The result was the first hung parliament since the 1999 general election, with unsuccessful attempts to form a coalition government resulting in a snap general election being called for November 2015.

“The results did not provide the majority that he needed for a constitutional change and Sunday’s election results are not likely to produce different results,” Akarçeşme explained.

According to analyst Amanda Paul and Demir Murat Seyrek, a senior policy advisor, Turkey, which has always been the most stable country in a turbulent region, risks its security being seriously jeopardised unless the violence is urgently stopped and the political ambiguity is ended through a stable government.

A country long seen as a model of Muslim democracy has grown more polarised. Political feuds and real bloodshed have become horribly intermingled, especially since the reopening in July of conflict between the state and the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)

Oddly, this behaviour may not have affected voters’ feelings that much; polls suggest an outcome not much different from last time. But in some parts of the country, the climate is so tense that there are questions over how equitable the election will be.

“Because these are repeat elections, citizens (in Turkey) are not excited or enthusiastic about these elections because everybody knows that the results will be more or less the same,” Akarçeşme went further.

MIDDLE EAST POLICIES

”As far as Middle East policies are concerned, there is not going to be much change either because Turkey’s position in the Middle East will not change as long as the government does not change,” Akarçeşme continued.

Ahmet Davutoglu, the prime minister, confirmed on October 26th that Turkish forces had hit Kurdish militias inside Syria, although those forces are the West’s allies against the jihadists of Islamic State of the Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL). The Turkish government claims to be fighting a two-pronged war against Kurdish forces and ISIL. It has shown greater zeal in battling the Kurds, but this week it reported several domestic operations against IS. A shootout with suspected ISIL militants in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir left two police officers and seven fighters dead. Security forces then said they had arrested 30 people in raids around Konya.

After the elections in June, the ceasefire between the PKK and the government broke down and Akarçeşme attributes this to the fact that the government was not transparent enough even before the elections.

“Nobody really knew the terms of negotiations even before the elections and during the elections the pro-Kurdish party promised that they will not allow (President) Erdogan to become executive president,” Akarçeşme added.

Even though the polls are in favour of Preseident Erdogan’s AKP party, Akarçeşme says that it is clear that there is not going to be a single party majority so it is going to either be another deadlock or a coalition government.

Today the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran will met in Vienna, with the aim of achieving a political settlement to help end the Syrian war.

POLICE STATE

Akarçeşme explains that the political situation in Turkey is arbitory because everything is dependent on what (President) Erdogan says. For example two days ago, one of the tv networks was cut off on air for being critical of (President) Erdogan.

“There is increasing pressure on media and decreasing judicial independence; there are freedom issues and terrorism is on the rise again,” Akarçeşme stated.

“So there are many crises going on in Turkey which are mainly as a result the national results not being respected. Unfortunately Turkey has turned into a police state… it was made clear when police raided a major tv station in Turkey”.

On Wednesday, Turkish authorities seized control of two television stations that have been critical of the government. After a standoff, authorities sealed off the premises and marched into the control room about 4:30 p.m. to take both channels offline during a joint live broadcast.

“There is more and more violations of human rights under (President) Erdogans rule and Turkey has become a highly unpredictable country because anything can happen,” Akarçeşme concluded. VOC


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