ANKARA -- The Turkish electorate knows that the AKP is corrupt, has strong authoritarian tendencies and continues to plunder (but distributes some of) Turkey's resources. But they also know that it can deliver services as it did until 2011. Above all, the voters favor stability and economic predictability. Fundamental values such as freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and free and fair elections constitute much lesser concerns.
A funereal atmosphere descended over western capitals with the announcement of Turkey's parliamentary elections' results, widely described in European and American media as a "shock" and a "black day for Turkey." The picture painted appeared very bleak, as a stream of reports, editorials and op-eds by opposition figures warned of a "return to autocracy and despotism" and declared the outcome as a threat to the "survival of democracy" in the country.
More than any other collective choice on politics, the upcoming polls will be a referendum on whether or not the voters will give the go-ahead for a power grab so meticulously, cunningly and daringly designed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the clique that surrounds his office, backed by a largely silent, shrewdly calculating new oligarchy.
In 1997, the movie Wag the Dog told the tale of an American President who created a fictitious war against Albania to distract from domestic scandals, ensuring reelection. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan must have seen it, as he's following the same script against the Kurds in order to boost his party's flagging fortunes. But will it work?
Turkey is headed in a dangerous direction, toward a corrupt, authoritarian state. The country needs an Arab Spring of sorts, but within the democratic process. An electoral revolution, not a street putsch. The use of the rule of law to end an illiberal government. The ballot box must make political power accountable.