The future of cities: noise politics or not?

Ahead of us is Ramadan, and in the midst of it, the elections. There are only a few days left, but there's not much of an election atmosphere. The fact that the presidential and parliamentary elections were held just 9 months ago is the biggest factor. Before and after, Türkiye experienced its busiest, highest-paced, and most contested elections from May 14th to 28th. Politicians are exhausted. They're worn out. Naturally, the public is tired too.

As we approach local elections, there's no leader on the podiums except President Erdoğan. Apart from never losing his excitement, Erdoğan seems like a party leader entering elections for the first time rather than someone who won two historic elections and sidelined all his competitors just 9 months ago.

On the opposition front, it's a new test in the aftermath of May 28th. Parties where intricate relationships turned into harsh divisions are now opposing each other. This new situation is frowned upon by both politicians and their bases. The most harmed will undoubtedly be CHP (Republican People's Party). Because they no longer walk the path with the parties that used to support and gather votes for them. CHP, lacking the zeal and effort of its alliance partner parties, even if they are small in size. Moreover, they are experiencing a new party leader who fails to ignite excitement within the organization.

I wrote about this before the May 14th elections. The Sextet Table was not about the parties and their bases but about the leaders' "political gains" alliance. They did politics with calculators. They aspired to govern on paper. Accordingly, they dismantled their party signs and moved from one end of the spectrum to the other, to CHP. As a result, they lost twice. The small parties gained nothing but a few seats each. Yet they went down in history as "small calculation parties." Now, on the eve of local elections, they are busy cutting ties with CHP and rebuilding their parties. Other than saying, "We have a party leader and mayoral candidates," they seem to lack any excitement that resonates on the ground.

The discussion between Meral Akşener and a citizen from Ankara regarding why İYİ Party didn't continue its alliance with CHP summarizes the current political sociology very well. Akşener, in response to the citizen asking, "Why did you turn back (from the alliance with CHP)?" had this reaction: "Did we establish a party for you or for the nation? Don't give it to us, support CHP, elect them. You thank DEM (Democracy and Progress Party) but curse us."

Meral Akşener faced much harsher reactions on social media when she first stepped away from the alliance, but the negative feedback she received from the streets is important in terms of reading voter reflexes. It's the reflection of CHP's superior attitude onto the streets. It's also an easy approach of "let everyone work for us, let's defeat Erdoğan" mentality. CHP has succumbed to the psychology of being unable to do politics alone and being meaningless. Despite formalizing the natural alliance formed in the 2019 local elections with İYİ Party and HDP, they couldn't maintain it. Now, they are without İYİ Party, disconnected from the center-right, and reaching out to the former HDP, now DEM. In this scenario, CHP doesn't mean much in many cities and electoral districts without DEM. DEM, on the other hand, refuses to be further excluded or disregarded in such an equation. CHP doesn't want to alienate İYİ Party voters who have a history of voting for center-right parties and have experienced the transition from right to left. Hence, we see a series of political calculations conducted behind closed doors, insincere to all voter groups, based on vested interests, where party identity, institutional structure, and principles are put on the back burner.

Our friend İhsan Aktaş, who observes and analyzes politics in Türkiye best with data, tweeted this yesterday: "Whichever party is on the agenda more in the media, their votes increase. The interesting thing is that whether the party is spoken of positively or negatively doesn't change the outcome."

İhsan, with the effect of social media, summed up the changing and evolving propaganda approach in a single sentence. Unable to go out to the field and not finding satisfactory responses even when they do, CHP is trying to cover up Özgür Özel's ineffective leadership with noise politics and turn "engagement" into votes.

For example, Ekrem İmamoğlu's inclusive tone, which embraced everyone in the previous elections in Istanbul, is nowhere to be seen. İmamoğlu's campaign, which started with panic, has turned into classic CHP rhetoric. It portrays a conscious portrait that degrades AK Party voters with chronic secular reflexes, denigrates the opponent, elevates itself, and presents a tableau of arrogance, which, even if negative, is turned into social media interaction.

It's worth mentioning that Murat Kurum had a very good start with "Only Istanbul." Focusing on Istanbul's problems and presenting solutions created a positive, well-intentioned candidate image that has now been overshadowed by the noise politics they've joined in recent days.

The future of cities should not be surrendered to this noise. However, the election will be won by candidates who focus on their jobs until December 31st and engage in less polemics.

2 months ago
The future of cities: noise politics or not?
As conservatism continues to gain strength...
Most sought-after, challenging to recruit, and expected to rise occupations in Türkiye
Restricting access to X in Türkiye is only a matter of time
Will Biden's 'bear hug' yield results?
There's nothing new on the Biden front...