A very tough election campaign in Turkey is due to the fact that right now there is the highest chance for the opposition to win – the ratings of the key candidates for the presidency of the country are so close. Literally on the eve of the vote, they are within the statistical error.
And the main intrigue is connected with the fact that this is the highest chance for an opposition candidate to win in the first round. And this intrigue is connected, for example, with Erdogan’s steps just before the elections, such as a sharp increase – by 45% – of salaries for state employees. This is naturally an attempt to enlist their support.
Firstly, given that Erdogan’s main electorate lives not in large cities, not in the capital, not in Istanbul, but in remote villages, in the regions, this factor becomes important for him personally. The fact is that in such regions there are fewer jobs and wages are lower. Civil service is almost the only kind of good income.
Secondly, it is civil servants who form the backbone of election commissions and participate in the counting of votes. Therefore, such a move by Erdogan can be regarded as a political technique, which, in the conditions of a tough struggle “head to nose”, can provide the minimum task – to prevent the opposition candidate from winning in the first round. And in the second, this will also play into the hands of the incumbent president.
Another interesting moment of this election campaign is the statement about Russian interference in it. It is associated with several episodes. Firstly, due to a stuffing against one of Erdogan’s opponents in the current elections, the candidate was forced to leave the electoral race – he could not stand the war of compromising evidence. At the same time, the leading opposition candidate, Erdogan’s main rival, Kemal Kyrychdaroglu, hinted that Russia could be behind this.
Another interesting moment of this election campaign is the statement about Russian interference in it. It is related to several episodes.
Secondly, I myself saw a video in which Kyrychdaroglu, who is a supporter of the country’s pro-European course, advocates the abolition of the reforms that Erdogan carried out to strengthen the position of the president, promises to give part of the powers to the parliament to balance the branches of power, suddenly recognizes Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Abkhazia , Ossetia… A person who constantly declares a Western course suddenly says something that even Erdogan did not allow himself. But it looked so realistic that I was shocked. It was very difficult to understand that this was a deepfake.
Thirdly, all this was dispersed through Russian Telegram channels and other social networks. That is, it was not difficult to understand where the “ears stick out” from. At the same time, people who do not have critical thinking, or who do not want to check the information, may believe in such fakes. And, in the conditions of a tough struggle of candidates for the presidency of Turkey, this can become a decisive factor.
Kyrychdaroglu’s statement directed at Russia is a preemptive blow, a warning to the Russian Federation not to interfere. But a dirty fight is going on, and Russia can really play along with Erdogan by taking the “blow” for these accusations on itself. Of course, without directly admitting guilt, because it is legally impossible to prove it.
And if the elections do not end with the first round, then by the second round we should expect even more heat.
Maxim Yali, Candidate of Political Sciences, Academician of the Academy of Political Sciences of Ukraine, Professor of the National Aviation University