The Voices of War

92. Hasan Aygun - Turkish Elections Unveiled: Erdogan’s Rise To Power, Dimming Of Democracy, And Geopolitical Ramifications

VOW 92 | Turkish Elections

 

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My guest today is Hasan Aygun, who is a prominent Turkish security analyst with an extensive career in international relations, global security issues and conflict management both as a diplomat and later as a political adviser.

Some of our long-time listeners might recognise Hasan’s biography, as he appeared on the show all the way back in June of 2021. To hear more about Hasan’s extensive background and experiences, listen here.

Today, however, Hasan joins me to discuss the results of the recent Turkish elections and possible implications for the country, the region, and the rest of the world.

 

Some of the topics we discussed are:

  • Hasan’s observations of the electoral process in Turkey
  • The historical context to Turkish politics and Erdogan’s rise to power
  • Description of the three dominant social groups determining election results
  • Gradual decline into authoritarianism and its effects on the ‘fairness’ of Turkish elections
  • Analysing the arrest of Istanbul’s mayor and credible rival to Erdogan, Ekrem Imamoglu
  • Exploring the factors behind Turkey’s rapid economic decline
  • Ownership of television and print media in Turkey and its impact on public discourse
  • Suppression of dissenting voices and threats to journalists in Turkey
  • The exploitation of migrants and Syrian refugees for political gain in Turkey
  • The influence of the February earthquake on voter sentiment in Turkey
  • The diminishing state of democracy in Turkey and its consequences
  • Evaluating the geopolitical winners and losers following Erdogan’s victory
  • Examining Turkey’s relationship with NATO and its implications
  • The ‘F-35 Affair’ and its effects on Turkey-US relations
  • Turkey’s ties with Russia and the consequences of Finland joining and Sweden’s imminent entry into NATO
  • Exploring rumours surrounding Erdogan’s health issues

Listen to the podcast here

 

Hasan Aygun – Turkish Elections Unveiled: Erdogan’s Rise To Power, Dimming Of Democracy, And Geopolitical Ramifications

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My guest is Hasan Aygun, a prominent Turkish security analyst with an extensive career in international relations, global security issues, and conflict management both as a diplomat and later as a political advisor. Hasan spent years serving the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in various functions, including as Vice-Consul, First Secretary, Head of Mission, and Counsel General in several different countries, including Iraq, Italy, Serbia, Austria, Azerbaijan, and Saudi Arabia. He later became a senior political advisor for NATO where over the years, he provided advice to six different 4-star generals.

Hasan is an Associate Director at Strategia Worldwide where he advises businesses, governments, and NGOs on complex risk management in conflict-affected regions with a particular focus on the Former Soviet States, the Middle East, Africa, and the broader Islamic world. Some of our long-time audience might recognise Hasan‘s biography as he appeared on the show all the way back in June 2021. For this episode, however, Hasan joins me to discuss the results of the recent Turkish elections and possible implications for the country, the region, and the rest of the world.

Hasan, welcome back to the show. Hoşgeldiniz.

Thank you very much. Hoşbulduk.

It is great to see you. A lot has happened since the last time we spoke a couple of years ago. What have you been occupying your time with mainly since then?

I enjoy part-time, but it doesn’t keep me from focusing on what’s happening around the world. The Turkish elections have been very important for me and for the country because it’s not about democracy the way it is in the Western world. It is a choice between certain ways of life. One is Islamic, which is a bit authoritarian. The other one is people vying for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, more importantly. Everybody in the second group is trying to digest the results.

The Turkish elections are not about democracy from a Western perspective. It is a choice between Islamic authoritarianism and human rights with the rule of law. Click To Tweet

You’ve been in Turkey through both the election, the runoff, and the lead-up as well. Is that right?

That’s right. I arrived in the country late in April 2023. I voted myself, discussed the run-off preps and everything, and voted again for the second round. I’m trying to concentrate on what may happen, what this election will bring both inside and outside, and how it will affect neighbouring countries. You mentioned Ukraine and Russia, but Arab countries are also on the screen.

I like the fact that you set the context for the election well because that’s ultimately my first question. I wanted to ask you how you would summarise what your overall feel for the election is, but you brought up two interesting dimensions. One, it was a competition between those who seek an Islamic Turkey or Türkiye and those who are progressive and secular seeking better relations with the West, more open border policy, and less traditionalist-type views. Can you explore a little bit more for those who are not familiar with the Turkish context, what that looks like inside Turkey?

Yes. In 2002, for the first time in the Republic’s history, we had a conservative religion-oriented party, which started promising in the beginning. They said they would affiliate themselves with the West European Union, adopt the rule of law, and get rid of archaic military dominance in the country. Many people believed it. Many people wanted change because we had coalitions. We had issues with the right and left. The PKK terrorism had been around for almost twenty years by then, so people were ready for some changes.

The problem is Quran and Islamists have different perspectives. Islam as a religion and the Quran as a book is more rigid. It has laws. It is white and black. There is a very small room for interpretation of the religion. When Recep Tayyip Erdoğan came to power, he used a phrase which is very important to remember. He said, “Democracy is like a tram. You get on it and you get off when you reach your own personal destination.”

VOW 92 | Turkish Elections
Turkish Elections: The Quran and Islamists have different perspectives. Islam is viewed as a religion and the Quran as a book with very small room for interpretation.

 

Optimists said, “This will work. In Turkey, such things happen. This is not certain Arab countries. This is Turkey. We are more civilised.” Yet, the other party had different objectives, and they were successful. Initially, the economy was great. For some years, investment was coming in. It was stable, but then, they approached the destination where they wanted to get off. The authoritarian rule was enforced. It was first put on a referendum. Did we want a parliamentary system or a presidential system? It was put with a nice coating, but it was clear that it would have been a one-man show, and it became a one-man show.

It was clear for whom. The referendum passed, so it was clear to a minority.

You’re right. Many liberals voted for the rule of law as mentioned by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his party, the Justice Party. Many in the beginning had some hopes of, “We can do it. 98% of Turks are Muslim, so it may work.” It was thought to bring some liberalisation of outfits, Islamic outfits, for example. Many said, “Why not? If they believe in it, they can do it.” The intention was not to be liberal. The intention was to make everybody look like them. It has been happening. You can buy alcoholic beverages in Turkey, but it’s about 300% tax. Many places are banned from selling it. They’re trying to change the way of life that we were used to that’s liberal.

After 2012 and 2013, things started to change. They became more authoritarian. They had issues within themselves. The Fethullah Gülen organisation and the AK Party broke apart. The AK Party prevailed and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became more authoritarian. In 2018, the presidential system was introduced. It was a referendum full of stories. There was no transparency. There were lots of rigging, as many would claim. For the last few years, we’ve been experiencing a presidential system, which makes us long for the parliamentary system of the AK Party before 2018 and 2017.

This election was an important test for those who were not happy with an Islamic-oriented rule and the liberal democratic ways they wanted to bring back. It was not only the religion. Corruption and nepotism have reached incredible levels. There is pressure and intimidation on social democrats’ opposition and liberal groups. Journalists, bloggers, and podcasters were all threatened by the system. The country is very clearly divided into 2, and I’m afraid to say, maybe into 3. When you look at the election results, you see three different geographical areas. The coastal line from the Adana-Syrian border after Istanbul is social democrats and liberal. They don’t like the way of life introduced by the Islamists.

The centre of the country apart from Ankara and Eskişehir, two provinces, is the AK Party. Whatever happens and whatever hardships they have, they are devoted. It’s like supporting a football team which can never become a champion. They say, “Things are not all right, but it’s ours.” It has moved from being a political choice to a more fanatic stronger group psychology. The southeastern part of the country got well with the first group, the social democrats, but in this case, they have their own geography where they are dominant and their emphasis is on Kurdish rights, the Kurdish way of life, and maybe self-rule.

It is fair to say that in this country, there are three different groups. Two of them can come along, but when you put Islamists and others, they cannot come along. They have to learn peaceful coexistence, and it is not here yet. The elections were something like a referendum. Do we want to continue or not? The result is 52 to 48, but it’s not a fair and just 48 to 52.

VOW 92 | Turkish Elections
Turkish Elections: Peaceful coexistence among Turkey’s three major groups is not here yet.

 

It’s very clear to our audience that both of us, undoubtedly, and I’m sure that’s the way you voted and certainly will be the way I would’ve voted, is in the 48%. We have to lay our bias out front, and you’ve stated as much right from the start. The reason I want to lay that bias up front is because it’s going to be very easy for us to be accused in this conversation, “You are sore losers. Therefore, you’re making the complaint.” I put that out front because what we’re going to talk about next is this notion of free and fair elections.

What you were about to say is that we can tick the box that these were free elections. In other words, people could go and vote. Everybody was free to vote and encouraged to vote, but where the rubber meets the road is the fair part. That was what you emphasised in your last statement that these were not fair elections. This is what I want to get into. This is where we start unpacking the progressive and gradual authoritarianism that has crept into Turkey since 2002 through the shift to the presidential system but also through things that you alluded to, like control of the media, silencing of the opposition, etc.

I’m happy for you to lead the conversation, but one thing that I want to talk about is something that’s been made quite a lot of noise about even since last December 2022. That was the imprisonment of Istanbul’s mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu, who, correct me if I’m wrong at least from the analysis that read, was a credible rival to İmamoğlu. He was very popular and charismatic and stood out as somebody who could challenge the iron grip that Erdoğan was developing on the country. He was subsequently arrested, and put in jail for dubious reasons. Perhaps you can give us a little bit of an understanding of the background to that affair and what that tells us about how Turkish politics are conducted at the moment.

As you described, the issue is a democratic way of winning an election. The majority is the majority, and the minority is the minority. Minorities have to learn their place in society. Without democracy, human rights, and proper rule of law, this is a fight for survival. It became a fight for survival. I will give you some alarming figures later on.

Minorities in Turkey have to learn their place in society without democracy, human rights, and proper rule of law. This is a fight for survival. Click To Tweet

The issue is that these elections were one way of going back to democracy or becoming more authoritarian where all the opposing voices would be stopped one way or the other. Before everything, let’s touch İmamoğlu. İmamoğlu could have been the candidate. Erdoğan was afraid of him because he was charismatic and appealing to the people. He’s from the same region, the Northeastern part of the country, so there was nothing against him that could be used. The only way to do it was to find some legal instrument to shut him down.

In 2019, in the municipal elections, Istanbul voters went to the polls twice. The first time, they cast four votes into one envelope. Despite every effort, İmamoğlu won by a small margin. The President said, “I don’t like it. He cannot win by a small margin.” Three votes that were cast in the same envelope were considered legal. One vote in the same envelope was considered wrong, rigged, and something went wrong. They said, “Even if nothing went wrong, something went wrong.” It’s a very interesting Turkish phrase. At that point, the election committee decided that one vote had to be renewed. In the end, İmamoğlu won by a much larger margin despite everything the government side tried. İmamoğlu is the only person who has scared Erdoğan.

The legal excuse found was in 2019 during the break between the election and the run-off, İmamoğlu said, “The decision to accept 3 votes out of the same envelope and cancelling 1 is stupid.” This was the legal excuse, insulting a government office, which was used as the sword of democracy on his head. That’s why they started this legal process against him.

If he had won the elections before the legal decision was made, it would’ve been more difficult for Erdoğan to get rid of it. When he won, the very next day, the courts decided that the sentence was legal. He’s still not in jail. It will take another 7 to 8 months for the process. There are two more appeal levels. This was the first appeal level and Erdoğan won normally. He is controlling every decision made at the courts. If you’re a judge and he doesn’t like your verdict, imagine what may happen. Everything you can imagine happens and even more.

If İmamoğlu doesn’t go to jail, it is almost 100% certain that years from now, İmamoğlu will run any candidate because Erdoğan will not be able to run again for the 4th time. He would’ve won. This was to assure the future, not now. More importantly, in 2024, Turkey will have a municipal election. In 2019, out of 11 metropolitan areas were won by the CHP, the Republican People’s Party, or the opposition. He’s already concentrated on 2024, a repetition of the elections. The map tells me and everybody that whatever he does, the ruling party will lose again the same metropolitan areas.

When you say whatever he does, do you mean whatever Erdoğan does?

Yes. Whatever Erdoğan does, he is bound to lose unless he has a magical wand and then changes millions of words.

VOW 92 | Turkish Elections
Turkish Elections: President Erdoğan is bound to lose the elections unless he has a magical wand and changes millions of votes.

 

Let’s talk more about İmamoğlu before we move off from him. It was an important aspect that although he’s not in jail because of the criminal case against him, and let’s double click on this, it was for insulting the government.

Insulting everybody saying that what they did was stupid.

It’s not even that he’s done an actual criminal act apart from speaking his mind, which is a huge part of this. It is because of that that he was then banned from running in this election, the presidential election, correct?

The ruling side is trying hard. On one occasion, İmamoğlu was visiting the grave of a former Sultan and he had his hands behind him. Someone called this an insult to a Sultan who lived many years ago and they went to court. It was so absurd. Even the court said, “We can never find an example of someone walking with his hands behind him insulting the grave of a Sultan.” They’ve been trying very hard to find something to link him with some trouble and silence him.

We have 7 or 8 more months until the final verdict because it will go to the humanitarian courts of Europe. It will stand as this word of democracy upon what İmamoğlu said. They want him to renounce his political future. This is the pressure on him because Erdoğan will need to come back in terms of economy with the West. Erdoğan has created an incredible problem knowingly economically.

Why do you say knowingly? That’s perhaps a useful point. I did want to come back to that point about the economy because you did make the point that initially, he was successful and there was a lot of investment coming in 2002 onwards. There’s no question that Turkey prospered in those initial phases, but it’s an important question to ask what he did to allow Turkey to prosper and why that perhaps wasn’t sustainable. It is probably why Turkey is facing some of the economic problems that it’s facing with inflation of 85% in 2022, if I’m correct.

Until 2012 or 2013, he played by the rules of economy. He invited people with experience and listened to them. Afterwards, his political ambitions and his maybe lifestyle ambitions started getting him to a different position like something very simple that started happening a few years ago. At one point, he said he was against interest rates because, in Islam, there is no interest rate. He said he would bring it down. The Turkish Lira was sustainable at that time. It was around ₺5 or ₺6 to $1. It was going down but at a slow rate.

VOW 92 | Turkish Elections
Turkish Elections: Until 2012-2013, President Erdoğan played by the rules of economy. He invited people with experience and listened to them. But his political and lifestyle ambitions started getting to him.

 

He started bringing the interests down. He was a one-man show. He ordered the Governor of the Central Bank to bring down the interest and he said, “Aye, sir.” 3 of them said no before and they were all dismissed, so the 4th one said, “Okay, sir.” The immediate reaction was the loss of trust in the system. Investments started going out, and people worried about their future in Turkey and started buying hard currency.

In Turkish banks, over 50% of the money is in US dollars or euros. The result was a spiral of incredible inflation. 85% was official. I can tell you from my personal experience when we last spoke that my dollars or Euros lost about 60% against Turkish prices. My purchasing power is down by 50% to 60% in two years. What happened was his personal decisions ruined the economy. To compensate before the elections, he is giving salary rises to the lowest level, the minimum wage. My Turkish pension from the Foreign Service was 4.5 times the minimum wage.

In July 2023, it’s going to be less than two times. It is bringing up the lower income earners. They are usually less educated and more conservative, and they are closer to Erdoğan in terms of background. It’s pressuring educated people and university graduates. The economy is in shambles. I said knowingly that first, he started with this religious idea of getting rid of interest. The second one, at the beginning of 2023, he started spending money on the welfare of his followers, the lowest wage earners. It’s over ₺120 billion to ₺130 billion. That’s more than something like $13 billion lost in these five months. The government is spending more than the taxes that are coming in.

The coffers are empty. They managed to get some swap systems from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. Whatever we have at Central Bank safes is the money coming from those countries. He is very happy, but how he is going to manage the economy is going to be incredibly difficult. The outgoing Minister of Finance said, “We are giving you money, but we are going to get them back by new taxes.” The economy will go down further. The immediate reaction after the second round was the Turkish Lira lost around 10% against the US Dollar and Euro.

That’s the further investment moving away.

People are losing their faith in the stability and health of the system. If we go back to what happened, how did he get 52%? It was a long process. It was not only the election days. Erdoğan has been cleverly investing in media. His followers and his close circle are buying media. For example, one group, Demirören, got a loan from the Agriculture Bank of $750 million to buy 2 media outlets. He never paid back. It was all planned. Everything was planned.

People are losing their faith in the stability and health of the Turkish political system. Click To Tweet

About 90% of printed media is controlled by the government side. It’s sometimes strange and funny for us. You can buy ten papers with the same headline, which is dictated by the information directorate of the president. They come up with the same catchphrases which are appealing to the people who favour the AK Party. The media that is still opposing is under pressure and under intimidation.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Turkey ranks second only after China in the number of imprisoned journalists. We’ve seen that spike post the so-called coup or the attempted coup in 2016. We did see a huge spike and the wide casting net of arrests capturing all of the intelligentsia, university deans, etc., who all allegedly had links to Gülen in some way. It’s very easy to make that mark against anyone, throw them to jail, and force them to prove their innocence. That then transpired to journalists. That’s not something that’s captured in our day-to-day discourse when we talk about Turkish politics which journalists are silenced and imprisoned every single day.

Also, podcasters, bloggers, and social media users.

I shouldn’t travel to Turkey.

Be careful.

We are laughing at it because of the absurdity, but it is a very serious, grave, and dark reality of the Turkish political landscape.

That’s true. Many people, knowingly or unknowingly, step on someone’s foot and they end up in jail. They have to prove their innocence. There are some people who are not even allowed to prove their innocence because the president says so. You must have heard of the Osman Kavala case, a philanthropist opposing the government at Gezi Park, Istanbul in 2013. There was a demonstration or standoff between government forces and ordinary people. He’s been in jail for years and there are no official incriminations against him. The president said he’s not coming out.

The leader of the HDP, Demirtaş, is in jail. The president promised that Demirtaş would never get out of jail before he died himself. Maybe you can say he was emotional, but these are signs of how he treats the rule of law in his hands. He’s the decision maker. There are cases when he was pressured by Germany and the US and he had to release certain prisoners. I say he released because there was no way of a legal decision being made overnight.

There is biased media coverage, partial law, and a lack of transparency in everything. Pressure on the media was at such a funny level. The Turkish state TV provided 82 minutes of propaganda to President Erdoğan and about 47 seconds to the opposition. It’s ridiculous. Every news starts with him and ends with him. Even if there were some people who would reconsider their vote had no access to opposition media and opposition TV. The state TVs have all sorts of programs. Unfortunately, the opposition TV has only political programs. Maybe they’re not attractive enough to those people who want entertainment. They listen to government-provided entertainment and news.

VOW 92 | Turkish Elections
Turkish Elections: Every news in Turkey starts and ends with President Erdoğan. Unfortunately, the opposition TVs are only political programs.

 

It became to such a level that people could not see the opposition alive among them. They had no clue what the opposition was arguing about. It is a very simple way of solving the problem. If they don’t hear, they don’t know, and if they don’t know, they think this is the normal environment. This is how the elections were held. It was free. Everybody could vote, but it was not fair. Most of the observers or the chairperson at every poll station belonged to the government side. The decisions taken were always challenged by the opposition. The results were never revealed properly.

The elections, how did they get 52%? In Turkey, there are between 8 and 13 million people born abroad. Whether you call them immigrants, illegal aliens, or refugees depends on you. This was a well-organised case. When I was working at NATO when the Syrian crisis started, the Turkish government’s first reaction was, “We would not allow more than 100,000 inside the country. We would invite NATO to take military action to seal the borders.” The president had another idea. He allowed in everybody.

If you’re a refugee, that means there is a problem in your country. When the refugees are not allowed to go back for holiday to their own countries, that means there’s a problem. In the Turkish case, Syrians can freely travel back and forth, especially on religious holidays. They can stay in their town for a few weeks or a month and come back as refugees.

The idea was to create a new power base for the ruling party because those Syrians offered good economic benefits. They’re not supposed to pay taxes if they start businesses. There are about 300,000 to 400,000 Syrian private businesses in Turkey. They don’t pay taxes whereas the Turkish person who is doing the same job has to pay taxes. Education is free. Health services are free. There are rent subsidies. There are minimal wage subsidies for Syrians.

By giving Syrians good economic benefits, the ruling party in Turkey gets to create a new power base. Click To Tweet

How does that benefit? Surely, they can’t vote as refugees.

That’s the point. The first thing in the twelve years that followed the first Syrian crisis, about 750,000 children from Syrian families were born in Turkey. The government, apart from those old fringe benefits, started offering them citizenship. According to the official figures, it’s about 250,000.

Citizenships awarded?

Yes, but there is never a clear figure. According to the opposition, according to the number of votes given especially in the border provinces, the figure is over 1.5 million. There is an easy way of calculating how many people live in a certain town. It’s through the birth certificate system or death certificate system. You know how many lived there.

If in three years the population increases by 30%, 40%, and 50% in certain towns, that means this is imported citizens or imported voters. All of them know what may happen if an ultra-rights Turkish party including the Social Democrats win. They’ll say, “We will send you back.” The standards of living in Turkey are much higher than in Syria. Citizens with the right not to pay taxes would vote for Erdoğan. If I were in their shoes, I would’ve done maybe the same thing.

In the 52 to 48, the difference in votes was 2.6 billion. That means 1.3 million could have made the difference. We have at least 1.6 million. Another issue was granting citizenship to those who would buy property in Turkey for $250,000. The votes came from the United Arab Emirates, other Arab countries, and even Iran and Ukraine. There were hundreds of thousands of people who got citizenship through that system.

You said Ukraine. Is it since the invasion in 2022?

It started before the invasion, but the figures were small. In Antalya, there were already maybe 20,000 to 25,000 people. This time, there are about 400,000. Those who have access to money bought an apartment and got citizenship. They’re dual citizens. They are there, Russians as well.

You always knew that there was a large Russian population. I was going to ask you about that, but I didn’t realise there was a significant Ukrainian one as well.

Iran and Iraq. Anybody in a troublesome country or African countries. They bought citizenship, and they were bound to vote for Erdoğan who provided them the opportunity. On Election Day, things were calm in both cases, so people voted. What happened was counting the votes. There was no transparency of objections. The elections committee never declared the findings of objections to some irregularities. In the second round, the time allowed for objections was less than 36 hours. They said, “You have to make your objection. I will declare the results in 36 hours. Whether I decide your way or not is what I will decide on my own. You will never know about the result.”

You have 36 hours to make your complaints.

Also, to get a result. The results had to come in that 36 hours. I was part of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in my earlier life for two years. There was this election monitoring system. I read their report. There was also another report by the European Council and I had access to those reports. They come with pages of some shortcomings. Would they have affected the results in a great way? They never talk about figures. The opposition talks about the figures, but there were too many irregularities before the elections and during the elections. Was it fair? It was not a fair election.

You had a very good question about how Erdoğan won the elections when the economy was terrible. It was hyperinflation. We had, in February 2023, an incredible earthquake. In fact, a series of earthquakes. The official figure is over 50,000, but the unofficial figure is close to 100,000 died. The reaction was incredibly slow. The military is trained for such cases, but they were not allowed out of their barracks for almost 48 hours.

How come they won? The earthquake region provided an opportunity for the government. Things were so bad economically. Immediately after the earthquake, they spread around the country. Their voters were replaced by Syrians and other nationalities. Yet, Erdoğan focused on certain fear factors like terrorism. He was like, “Everybody but the ruling party is a terrorist. CHP is supporting and associating with terrorists.” He used the terrorist word maybe 300 times a day.

Religion scared the people. They said they will turn all the mosques into barns if they win, so you are going to lose your religion. He even mentioned so many untrue events that people would go into the mosques with their shoes on and have some alcohol in the mosques. He played the religion cards. He denied all the wrongdoing. Everything was organised by outside forces who were out to get him or the opposition. Many among the voters for the AK Party would claim that the inflation was because of the opposition, not because of economic decisions.

If you are supporting the government and you hear this, your own natural biases will make you believe that because you want to believe it. We see this as much in other parts of the world as we see it in Turkey, the US, or anywhere else. The base of a particular autocratic leader believes the unbelievable because that’s your bias towards it. You will forgive even indiscretions that otherwise might taint a leader because you’ve bought into that idea. Whoever the target of that particular leader’s rage is are the evil guys. They’re the bad ones. They’re the swamp. They’re the elite. They’re the 1%. Call it whatever you want. They’re the terrorists. It’s very easy to swallow that narrative whole and complete when presented to you.

That’s 100% correct. There is one more item that was very important. It is the LGBT. The argument by the president was that if the opposition won, they would allow gay marriage and lesbian marriage, but also to animals. I have never heard of it. People would believe it or buy it. His main idea was polarisation.

It was to fasten them.

There was media control, fake news, and fake videos. There’s a famous video that went around. The president showed the video at his rallies. The opposition leader would speak at some place, and then he would be uploaded by famous PKK terrorist leaders. He was adamant about it. He said, “It’s Photoshopped. We added it there, so what?” You reminded me about the effect of the laws against disinformation. There is a file against the president for fake videos and fake news, but I am 100% sure nothing will happen, unfortunately. In this environment, they won the elections.

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