Eyes on Istanbul’s Rerun Election Today

And may the real winner win. Live news in English at TRT News, although be aware that it is a state broadcaster run by the Turkish government.

Update from the Financial Times:

Mr Imamoglu (the opposition candidate) increased his lead in the city of 10.5m voters from less than 14,000 votes in the initial vote to more than 700,000. Those figures were based on almost 98 per cent of ballot boxes, Anadolu said.

385 more photos from all over Turkey here at EarthPhotos.com.

Quotes: In Turkey, Food Police Are A Thing

Municipal elections are coming up in Turkey. Don’t fret, the police are on your side and they’re here to help:

Police officers walk the beat in grocery stores to monitor prices. Inspectors have seized tons of onions from warehouses, fining the owners for hoarding, even though storing the bulbs is common practice to prevent rot.

From Grocery Stores Are at the Front Line of Turkey’s Latest Political Battle.

Meanwhile in Turkey

Reserve a little thought space for the upcoming Turkish elections. Both presidential and parliamentary elections are coming in nine days time, and by most accounts President Erdogan finds himself in a tightening race. An article in Bloomberg titled Why Erdogan’s Election Has Gone From Shoo-In to Nail-Biter writes about

“the prospect Erdogan wouldn’t work with a hung parliament and instead call an election do-over if the results were not to his liking.”

The president said Monday that

“he expects the next presidential and parliamentary elections to end in the first round, with little possibility of a second one.”

But a Reuters poll just out today shows Ergodan

“falling short of a first-round victory … with his support dipping 1.6 points in one week…. The poll also showed his ruling AK Party was forecast to lose its parliamentary majority in the June 24 vote.”

So, we may expect an excess of media riches on Sunday, 24 June: England vs. Panama, Japan vs. Senegal and Poland vs. Colombia in the World Cup, and Erdogan versus a more-than-usually-united opposition in the Turkish Election Sweepstakes.

More Trouble in Turkish Cyprus

Earlier this month I published the post Erdogan & Northern Cyprus, in which I admitted ignorance about the aggressive Islamification of Turkish Cyprus. Now that it’s on my radar, I have found new news in the Washington Post today, which may be behind a paywall for you, so here is the first bit:

NICOSIA, Cyprus — The editor of a left-wing Turkish Cypriot newspaper on Monday accused Turkey’s president of instructing supporters to launch a violent attack against his publication’s offices over criticism for Ankara’s military offensive into Syria.

Sener Levent said his newspaper Afrika won’t be silenced in calling out Turkey’s policies either in the breakaway north of ethnically-split Cyprus or elsewhere.

This has to be seen in light of Turkish President Erdogan’s Afrin moment, obviously. The question now, in both incidences, is where will Mr. Erdogan stop. The so-called international community should have something to say on Afrin, though I continue to search in vain for a White House response. In Cyprus, the question is, is Mr. Erdogan is content to merely boil frogs, or does he mean to cause real trouble?

For a little bit of a longer view, here is Cypriot hopes for unification are on life support, but not doomed from theconversation.com.

One Big, Tough President

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Nothing wins respect like arresting children for defending the founder of your republic.

Turkish police arrest boy, 16, for insulting Erdogan

The boy’s speech, given to commemorate the killing of a Turkish soldier by Islamists in the 1920s, was recorded on video and broadcast by Dogan News Agency.

In it, he defends secularism and the principles of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic.

Turkish PM, Off the Rails

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Ahead of local elections, tonight Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s government is said to have blocked Twitter. The PM has been through a rough patch since he mishandled last summer’s Gezi Park protests. In the process he has grown steadily more intolerant and now he may have gone off the deep end.

He’s been under pressure.

Last summer the government’s scheme to replace a park with a shopping mall just off Taksim Square drew protesters to a sit-in at Gezi Park. It remained entirely peaceful until the Prime Minister’s developer/supporter crowd grew impatient and finally prevailed upon the PM to clear the protests with tear gas and water cannon, resulting in deaths.

Suddenly the squishy Gezi Park left was in unlikely alliance with the Besiktas Ultras, passionate supporters of the local Besiktas football club down on the Bosphorus. Together, all of them were clubbed by agents of the AKP, Erdogan’s ruling party.

The protests and the violence put the regime way back on the back foot. Then starting about a month ago and continuing nearly every day since, tapes have been leaked showing the PM’s direct, personal and just stunning complicity in really astonishing corruption.

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Last week Berkin Elvan died. He was 14 during the Gezi Park protests. His family says he was out to buy bread during the siege last summer, when he was struck in the head by a tear gas canister. Then he lay comatose for months before dying. Which brought more people to the streets. This photo of a protest in Istanbul following his death is dated 14 March, from the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet:

elvin

Decent people across Turkey expected something if not compassionate, at least conciliatory about the death of the child from the PM. Erdogan was silent for a few days, then declared that the boy was a terrorist:

“This kid with steel marbles in his pockets, with a slingshot in his hand, his face covered with a scarf, who had been taken up into terror organizations, was unfortunately subjected to pepper gas,” Erdogan told a crowd of supporters in a speech broadcast on state-run TRT-Haber news channel.

“How could the police determine how old that person was who had a scarf on his face and was hurling steel marbles with a slingshot in his hand?”

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Exactly a year ago, a confident Erdogan meant to lead Turkey to solve its Kurdish problem. Once lauded and encouraged by the world, now the Turkish PM is in full, blooming denial.

He remains haughty on the campaign trail. In Bursa on 20 March he said, “We now have a court order. We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.”

It’s the ham hand of the autocrat, gorged with power, out of touch, in charge too long, crazy.

Election day is ten days away.

I don’t know any nicer people on earth than Turks and I love my Istanbul. This isn’t an easy time for the good people of one of the world’s great and timeless cities. I wish them well.

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Here are 384 photos from Turkey.