Atilla  Yesilada: Erdogan won; Turkey lost

What awaits Turkey after her historical election? In order to map Turkey’s near future, there are three big uncertainties that we need to resolve in the coming days. First of all, judging by the social media discussions and Erdogan’s now traditional balcony speech, radical economic measures will be announced for a short time. It will take  time to decipher what heir-brained scheme Erdogan’s handler have cooked up. Second, the Nation Alliance, which convened 1.5 hours after the announcement of the unofficial results, dispersed without explanation. Will it remain united to contest 2024 March local elections, or crumble away? Finally, as always, there are numerous allegations of irregularities at the ballot box. We need to see if the perception of opposition voters will be framed by anger at fraud. In this article I provide some preliminary answers to the conundrums.


In the second round votes Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu received were not much different from the first round. The two leaders received 52% and 48% of the votes cast, respectively. It is clear that the hasty reshuffle of alliances between the two rounds did not affect the outcome. For Kilicdaroglu to win, his participation rate should have increased by 4-5 points and the CHP (including the small parties on its list) and IYIP voters should have supported him decisively. These did not happen. According to preliminary analyses, some CHP and IYP voters again boycotted Kilicdaroglu, and a number of HDP voters were angry with Ümit Özdağ-Kilicdaroglu   collaboration, boycotting the latter.

News about  ballot box shenanigans started as soon as the voting opened and it’s still flowing in. “Our neighborhood”; i.e. the secularist media has already firmly embraced the view, that Erdogan won through Syrian refugees and Turks living abroad. According to this theme, these 2 groups of voters have little to do with the rational management of Turkey. In other words, my media connects Erdogan’s election victory to the random preferences of one or two marginalized groups, thus opening a legitimacy debate. This is the slippery slope to  what Turkish sociologists call “government without consent”. Turkey is now a nation divided by thick walls of  ideology, suspicion, frustration and anger. If opposition voters believe that no elections in Turkey will ever be fair and just, it will be almost impossible for them to participate in Erdogan  administration in any way. Such societies often regress towards social unrest and political-economic disenfranchisement of the minority.


Erdogan began his balcony speech with messages of peace and reconciliation, but soon turned to berating the opposition in terms we are all familiar with: The opposition was the pawn of terrorists, Gülenists and foreign powers. It also heralded a bold new economic opening.

“Reis”, i.e. “The Boss” as his fans call him, has two options to govern Turkey going forward. The peaceful option involves giving some say to the opposition in the administration, while the other requires its complete purge. While we’ll have to see more evidence in the coming days, I believe Erdogan will choose the second option in the March 2024 election, with a view to reclaiming major municipalities. It’s also very clear that he wants to establish a dynasty and that his desire for more power is getting out of control. The first attempt in this regard would probably be to sideline  CHP Istanbul mayor İmamoğlu.

The choice of  completely liquidating the opposition promises a rapid decay in the socio-economic realm. In the short term, the most obvious effects can be manifested in the form of persistent witch hunts and massive brain drain and capital flight.

I have no idea what Erdogan’s new economic venture will entail, but since the balcony speech emphasized the mantra of keeping interest rates low, I find it hard to imagine orthodox prescriptions in it.

Throughout the day, Western media published  news that Erdogan would agree to a rate hike. If Erdogan persists on the low interest path,  dollar/TL may jump to the 26-30 band. Such a devaluation not only fuels inflation once again, but also creates financial turmoil by exacerbating dollarization.

I don’t think Erdogan realizes how close Turkey is to a full-blown financial crisis. When disaster looms, his reaction may be to eat humble pie and ask the IMF for help, but more likely it will be to confiscate assets from people like us,  levy discriminative and punitive taxes (liquor, tobacco, literature, arts and culture), and muzzle all opposition to its policies. In addition, opaque agreements with Russia, Azerbaijan and the Gulf Monarchies will increase to delay the inevitable. CBRT reserves will rise and fall like my blood sugar levels, while I read Erdogan news. Turkey will become Putin’s vassal and the center of all money laundering transactions in the region. It is also possible for the Arabs to chase precious national assets such as THY, Turk Telekom and Turkcell. If Erdogan can persuade his friends to bankroll it, he can even start construction on Canal Istanbul.

Very difficult days await the opposition. I have no doubt that efforts to end all organized Kurdish opposition will move forward rapidly, with the Green Left Party’s rank-and-file imprisoned, prosecutions against MPs and the lifting of their immunities.

I don’t know if the CHP and IYIP can tolerate their leaders anymore. It is not clear whether the Nation Alliance will continue to exist. Perhaps, in order to accelerate the dissolution in the Nation Alliance, some conspiracies will be invented to eliminate  Kilicdaroglu and Aksener from politics. I predict that Erdogan and Bahceli will soon try to bribe IYIP, SP, Deva and Future Party  MPs to reach 360 seats which will allow them to gerrymander the electoral system to perpetuate their power.

At this point, it is difficult to be optimistic about Turkey’s future. We must prepare for the worst. This “worst” can include formal capital controls and/or serious FK deposit flight from the banking system.


I’m sure there was some cheating  done at the ballot box. However, it is not rational to gloss over the 2-odd million vote difference between Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu. A  large mass of voters who only cling to life with the help of the state in Anatolia and become increasingly impoverished in the ghettos of big cities have now become Erdogan’s “clients”. They are so afraid of breaking that thin branch on which they hold on to life that they will remain loyal until a deep crisis hits and the Chief has no money to feed them.

We economists who did not receive a salary from AKP warned the nation that walking with Erdogan is to end up  one’s wallet being stolen from the pocket and  the corpse thrown by the roadside. Maybe some things are only understood when they are experienced.


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.