Psychological edge is key to winning elections. Campaign strategists frequently attempt to promote morale among their supporters or dishearten their opponents. The same goes for the June 23 mayoral election in Istanbul.
Although the race is geographically limited to Istanbul, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government’s opponents are unified. The electoral authority’s decision to annul the original vote has been exploited for a coordinated campaign at home and abroad. Critics raise questions about the legitimacy of the ballot box, claiming that the Turkish people no longer trust the electoral process.
That the elections watchdog found widespread irregularities is often ignored. Instead, there is an attempt to turn a technical decision into a debate on “the Erdoğan regime’s collapse” and “revolution.” The opposition acts like Ekrem İmamoğlu, the opposition candidate, has been stripped of his mandate and the municipality was handed to Binali Yıldırım. The Republican People’s Party (CHP), best known as the vanguard of the guardianship regime, went beyond criticism and painted a target on the backs of judges who ruled for annulment. Needless to say, everything they do is part of an effort to boost İmamoğlu’s morale.
It is no secret that Western governments have been eagerly waiting for the AK Party’s removal from power. Therefore, the Western media’s anti-Erdogan sentiment does not shock anyone. After all, the same outlets acted exactly the same way before the 2017 constitutional referendum and last year’s presidential election. They have been parroting the same line about the collapse of Turkish democracy for years. Now, they have turned their attention to the Istanbul race. Ignoring the transfer of power in Ankara and Antalya, they target the credibility of electoral institutions in an attempt to help the CHP candidate.
It is crucial for all AK Party supporters to take into consideration this battle for morale before casting their votes.
[Daily Sabah, 15 May 2019]