In politics there is no relegation zone to fall, if you fail when in power you lose all…

Tottenham Hotspur teknik direktörü Mauricio Pochettino.. Bayern maçı sonrası..

Football clubs do their best in order to complete the new season at the top in their national league -and become the champion, if possible. Besides, they compete with successful teams of other nations in the Champions League if they are nominated to participate in the tournament thanks to their success in previous season.

Champions take on other champions…

Lovers of football must be watching one match after another these days, and our teams, namely Başakşehir, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor are going to be playing against their European rivals tonight.

[Don’t worry, please. This is not a piece on football. You will see that it is about the political agenda if you can be patient with me for just a moment.]

One of the games Tuesday night ended in a shocking result: Tottenham Hotspur, the finalist in the Champions League and the fourth-best team in the British Premier League last year suffered a heavy defeat at home against Bayern Munich of Germany: 2-7.

It must be one of the most embarrassing defeats the team has suffered in last decades…

I browsed through sports pages of several British papers yesterday to see reactions to the heavy defeat of Tottenham. As I expected, most of the pieces questioned how the shining team of the league last year ended up in such a dire situation today. More importantly, the newspapers informed their readers that an extensive evaluation was being conducted within the team itself as well.

We don’t need to go into details here.


In the case of failure, there is no acceptable excuse in football. Game plans of the Tottenham’s coach, who was almost to be chosen as the ‘coach of the year’ in 2018, are now being accused of simplistic while the striker of the team, the ‘top scorer’ of the league two years ago, and some other players are being heavily criticized. 

Of course, the question of “What has the German Bayern got that our team lacks?” accompanies these questioning criticisms. 

Football is a highly lucrative business today, and billions of dollars are at stake. An exceptionally successful player transfers from one team to another in return of millions of Euros. Because success is ultimately the only value that matters, failure is not tolerated.

From football to politics

I have merely talked about football up to this point, and you understandably wonder how my paragraphs above may be relevant to the realm of politics.

They are relevant in this sense: People who engage themselves in politics actively do so with a claim to leadership of their country, and political parties rise to power when they draw sufficient level of popular support. People’s relation with a particular party is not a relation of loyalty if the country is ruled based on democratic principles. If there is some room here for the word ‘loyalty’, it needs to refer to ‘loyalty’ of the party to its own promises that it previously gave to people. The essential relation here, therefore, needs to be between expectations of people from the party regarding increasing level of prosperity, respectability of the country internationally, and making its people happy.

Politicians maintain their governing positions so long as they show ‘success’ in this context in democratic countries. When serious economic problems arise, relations with other countries deteriorate and consequences of this deterioration begin to affect lives of individuals adversely by causing people to feel insecure about their future, past achievements of political parties in power may well be forgotten.

People gradually withdraw their support for the party that they had given support before. 


Normally, such circumstances give rise to self-critical voices within parties as it is the case in a good number of countries in Europe nowadays. This is also the reason why we have witnessed many changes of prime ministers in Britain during the last decade. Handovers of power have taken place in other European countries, too, and this trend is likely to continue.

What do we see when we look at Turkey and AK Parti [the ruling party -T.N.] from this perspective?

Because I would not wish to upset anyone, I will not make a comparison between the successful periods of AK Parti rule in recent past and the gloomy picture of today’s Turkey by referring to some worrying facts and figures. All other fields of social life aside, our economic situation and those challenges that we face in international affairs alone illustrate the worrying picture clear enough.

AK Parti, which gave a convincing hope to people regarding the possibility of becoming one of the most prosperous countries in the world in its initial periods in power, has begun to stagger first and then become incapable of stopping the rot in its last 10 years.

In this sense, the party reminds the present-day of Tottenham Hotspur: From being a team in the Premier League competing for the top and the finalist in the Champions League last year to the heavy defeat last night against Bayern

The players are now questioning the club managers and the coach, believing that the game plan and tactics cause the failure. Supporters of the team express their discontent by remaining silent in the stadium instead of giving enthusiastic support.

But what is done in politics in our country under the present-day circumstances?

The governing party’s leadership must be aware of the fact that popular support for the party is declining. Do they question possible reasons of this? If the leadership investigates possible reasons and take a note of these, are the findings discussed comprehensively within the party organization?

What is seen is that party activists in local party organizations and enthusiastic supporters quietly take a back seat.

From politics to football

It is obvious that Tottenham Hotspur finds it difficult to climb upward from the bottom rankings of the league. Would you expect Tottenham Hotspur to show loyalty to the coach due to the great achievements of the team during the previous season, or to take measures to stop the rot? 

Or, to go to extremes by coming up with some eccentric excuses to show the heavy defeat against Bayern last night as acceptable as if it doesn’t imply anything alarming? Can they propose a formula that a team becomes defeated with 7 goals, that team will be considered victorious?

I am asking this question because I observe that AK Parti seeks a way out by proposals such as, “Let us change the 50+1 percent election threshold, and let the 40 percent of votes be sufficient enough for a candidate to be elected as the president.

Nobody within the party and the pro-government media asks why and how the party has ended up in a situation that it now desperately seeks a way out through such formulas. Even there are some commentaries which implicitly blame people for being ‘ungrateful’.

[We witness to a new and interesting case in our national football league this year: The leading clubs that traditionally compete for the top are challenged. Except Fenerbahçe, the second from the top in the ranking at the moment, none of these teams are in the top six, and the leader is an Anatolian team, Alanyaspor. Beşiktaş is in the relegation zone ranking 16th while Galatasaray is 7th. The Club of Beşiktaş has already embarked on a quest to reverse the course by questioning causes of the present picture. In football, those in responsible positions are called to account in our country, too. But, in politics?]

[Translated by Bernar Kutluğ from the the article appeared in this site’s Turkish section on October 3, 2019]