Reading Turkey’s Election
Unfortunately, in this election, too, cultural and identity values have outweighed class values. The workers voted according to cultural values such as religion, sect, nationalism, and the contradictions that occurred around these. Erdoğan, inciting the identity-culture polarization, won, and the left, which could not put the class struggle on the agenda, lost. As a result, despite the cost of living and increasing poverty, Erdoğan lost only 3 points of votes compared to 2018.
As 2022 progressed, two ominous developments began to manifest themselves. The first was that the streets were quiet despite the out-of-control cost of living. There were no spontaneous protests, except for some flashing small movements, and there was no meaningful work of labor organizations such as KESK and DİSK and the left-socialist front against the economic crisis. In the electoral victory of Erdoğan, the so-called socialists, who lead the labor organizations, played a big role as much as the bourgeois character of the Nation Alliance.
The "opinion leaders" and narrow-minded columnists on social media in chorus denounced the street protests, claiming that they would benefit the AKP and the masses were frightened. Eventually, the street was empty. This silence, which was experienced when inflation exceeded 100%, was not a good indication. Because the left cannot grow without action, strike, union, and organization. The unorganized urban poor, under the influence of nationalism and sectarianism, learn only from class actions: The school of the workers is the struggle. This is how class consciousness proceeds. Organizing any class action means that the streets are abandoned to the right. As a matter of fact, the streets were left to Erdogan. He, too, knew how to deceive the urban poor by escalating identity and cultural polarizations with the discourse of hatred he has been using for a long time while running the last meters of the election race. The Nation Alliance front, which has been trying to prevent anti-AKP protests since 2018, now desperately embraces the far-right rhetoric to win the votes of the fascist-leaning Zafer Party.
Another development that made Erdogan's victory possible was that Erdogan prevented the economy from a total collapse with the financial support he received from “foreign powers”. With the economic aid received from Russia, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, a new exchange rate attack and a sudden collapse was prevented. It is said that "the cliché that 'empty pot topples government' was falsified in this election", but this claim is an obvious error of analysis. Because we did not experience a wave of bankruptcy in tradesmen, widespread company bankruptcies, and mass unemployment. If these had happened, Erdoğan could not even be a candidate in the elections. Knowing this very well, Erdoğan and his team plundered all resources throughout 2022 and kept the wheels turning bringing in dollars from abroad with many concessions and managed to slow down the increase in the currency. The big economic wreck that would occur after the election was never important for the AKP.
Thus, Erdogan, who kept himself alive until the election process, was able to collect the right votes from now on. Anti-Kurdish, anti-Alevi, and anti-LGBTI+ were used to the fullest. Family, Islamic symbols, flag, homeland, Turkish-made UAV-UCAV weapons, the image of strong Turkey, enemies, terror, etc. have been trampled on. For this Erdoğan played a fake video that claimed to show Kurdish militants declaring their support for Kılıçdaroğlu at a pre-election rally. Türkiye almost voted not the conditions of the country and the situation of the people, not the deadly earthquake but the cultural issues, identity divisions or lifestyles. "Traitors drinking champagne and eating pork" on the one hand, "praying patriots" on the other. Thanks to this, a large segment of discontent was persuaded to vote for Erdoğan against the “other”. Dissatisfied with their situation, this group allegedly punished the AKP and gave the vote to the far-right and fascist parties such as MHP and YRP in the parliamentary elections. That is, they did not go to the "others" front.
– The upcoming period will be a difficult one in which the poverty of the people will increase. We must be ready for important struggles. We have to scale up the organized struggle. There is no room for despair. Let's not forget that the laws of class struggle are bigger than Erdogan.
-Freedom needs dedication. The idea that we can get rid of the AKP by simply voting without making any effort, taking risks, or being organized has gone bankrupt. Complaining never helps. We will either organize and fight back or wait like lambs to the slaughter. There will be no humane life without being organized, without effort, and without raising the class struggle.
-What is decisive is the class struggle. We cannot defeat the sectarian, nationalist, misogynist bigoted far-right without winning over the urban poor. That's why labor radicalism is our watchword. Left following identity/cultural politics is collapsed and essentially under the service of the right.