August 16, 2014

President-elect breaks victory speech promise

Turkey's much-anticipated presidential election on Aug. 10 resulted in the victory of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who managed to defeat his close rival Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu and pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party's (HDP) candidate Selahattin Demirtaş in the first round. With the 51.8 percent of the votes, Erdoğan has become the president, though he had expected to garner nearer 60 percent, as the opinion polls predicted ahead of the election.

On Sunday night, Erdoğan delivered a victory speech from the balcony of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) headquarters' building in Ankara, pledging to embrace all of Turkey's citizens, whether they voted for him or not. He promised to open a new page in Turkey's history, sparking hopes that he would drop his polarizing and harsh rhetoric he often employed against his opponents during the run-up to the election.

A photograph taken during Erdoğan's address marred the speech, showing Interior Minister Efkan Ala trying to squeeze between two ministers, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Lütfi Elvan.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the hope that Erdoğan would become a conciliatory president proved to be short-lived. Erdoğan defended his relentless attacks on the media, which had become his hallmark during the election campaign, and criticized the judiciary for rulings that were not to his liking. “Don't some media outlets throw all kinds of insults at me, my friends and my party? Yes, they do. This is very clear and out in the open,” Erdoğan stated.

As usual, Erdoğan's harshest remarks were reserved for the Hizmet movement, which he holds responsible for the Dec. 17, 2013 corruption investigation. He hurled his usual insults at the movement he had formerly praised. Although he did not deny the authenticity of leaked phone conversations implicating him and his close circle of corruption, bribery, tender-rigging and media interference, he used Hizmet as a scapegoat for his troubles by calling for a sustained fight against the so-called “parallel structure.” He asked party officials to continue targeting members of Hizmet after he leaves the government and the party management.

Published on Today's Zaman, 16 August 2014, Saturday