Tuesday, 16 July

Istanbul Diary: AKP Expected to Win Again

This morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see the sun shining when I woke. It was a welcoming sight given the past few rainy and overcast days here in Istanbul.

That’s not to say the weather was warm. Located on the coast, the sea winds can be quite chilly and damp. Nevertheless, our group headed out to the Shishli neighbourhood by metro. We then got in a long two section bus with a connecting and moveable rubber pivot.

After a long ride, we finally reached our destination – The Istanbul Cultural University, next to the airport.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled in Turkey for June 12 and the run-up fervour is evident everywhere.

The ruling AKP party, headed by PM Erdogan, has actively entered the campaign fray. One of my reporter friends from Yerevan approached an AKP campaign table on the street that was manned by three party supporters. They were handed out campaign literature to passersby.

She asked what the booklets were. One of the activists handed her a bunch of literature and then pulled out a plastic bag and placed some small metal objects inside. At first, I thought he wanted to present the reporter with earrings but then made out that the small items were the AKP’s official emblem that could be pinned on your clothes.

As we started to leave, an AKP campaign minivan van passed by. Someone from inside was exhorting people to cast their ballots for the party; or so I assumed.

Leaving the university, I noticed that workers had placed a giant Turkish flag on the building’s exterior. Later, an equally large banner of Ataturk appeared on the other university annex as well.

In the run-up to the elections, the two symbols of the Turkish state, the flag and Ataturk, have doubled in Istanbul.

The faces and banners of other candidates and parties can also be spotted on Istanbul buildings, but those of the AKP dominate the landscape.

During a meeting we had with political analyst Fuat Keyman the day before, he had told us that the AKP was expected to win 4045& of the vote.

In the previous election of 2007, Erdogan’s party won 47% of the vote; in 2002, 34%.

It appears that the AKP is on track to win the lion’s share again and continue at the helm of Turkey for another four years.

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