The British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation. She couldn’t hold tears during her speech she gave prior to her announcement of resignation. She came to power in order to materialize the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union (Brexit) as decided by a referendum, but she couldn’t accomplish this task.
Theresa May has gone.
In a British daily that I glanced through to see what were written about her after her resignation, titles of the commentaries were as below:
“The blunt truth is, Theresa May was a terrible Prime Minister, and we are better off without her.”
“Mrs. May has been the worst British prime up to now, and left a legacy of complete failure.”
“I don’t feel sorry for Theresa May – her obstinacy made her the architect of her own destruction.”
“I’m sorry Mrs. May, but compromise is a dirty word when it involves the betrayal of Brexit.”
You choose which eulogy is suitable to your wishes…
Theresa May is the leader of the Conservative Party, and these news and pieces appeared in the newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, which is the most supportive of this party .
Politics demands success
As what were written about Theresa May after her resignation clearly show, the rule of “It is impermissible to talk bad behind someone’s back” makes no sense at all in politics.
Politics accepts no value other than success. Successful leaders are passionately welcomed; but, when some serious setbacks implying a failure take place, even the most enthusiastic supporters begin to turn their back on that political leader, and people who have kept gushing over him/her now start to talk adversely behind his/her back.
Politicians who know this grim fact best live in our country. [There are more than enough examples about this: the political destiny of Turgut Özal after 1989, who was once glorified as ‘the leader who took Turkey into a new age’; those pejorative phrases used for Tansu Çiller after 1995 by the same people who had once greeted her with a dramatic headline reading ‘the high heel beat of the Lady’; the declaration of Bülent Ecevit in 2002 as a ‘slob and sick man’ while he had been welcomed earlier as ‘the man of the people’…]
AK Party has been in power for 17 years. The party carried its leader to the presidency through a referendum last year on a constitutional modification that allowed its leader to become the ‘single ruler’ as well as consolidating its power with a five-year period through the general elections.
Undoubtedly, this is a success story. Tayyip Erdoğan was elected as the president with a 52 percent vote rate, and AK Party managed to succeed in getting half of the votes in the election that it participated in with its ally MHP under the name ‘The People’s Alliance‘.
But, as you see, AK Party has started to come under criticism and objections even from its own media as its vote rate dropped down below 40 percent, and its alliance lost metropolitan municipalities in majority of the large cities, in the capital Ankara and Istanbul in particular, despite the fact that its alliance came in first in the election of March 31.
The criticism AK Party receives is not as harsh as those directed at Theresa May in The Telegraph yet, and it has not tuned into questioning the leader himself. However, adverse remarks and assessments about high party officials he himself appointed and the candidates he chose in the mayoral elections are just eye-catching.
Taking into consideration what is happening these days, we may say that the re-run of the Istanbul election on June 23 will be a critical threshold.
There is a rabbit in the hat to pull out (is there?)
My impression I am getting when I am with friends from AK Party is this: Their minds are still preoccupied with some phrases widely used during the last election campaign such as security-based phrase ‘matter of survival‘ and ‘Who loses Istanbul loses Turkey, too.‘ In the first round of the election, Istanbul was lost, and AK Party supporters clung to the hope ‘Surely our leadership will do something’. That ‘something’ got materialized with the decision of the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) for the re-run.
The party supporters are in the expectation of ‘winning again’ today, too. They expect the June 23 election to be repetition of what had happened after June 7, 2015 presidential election: AK Party got around 40 percent of votes and lost its position as the majority in the Parliament; but, it did not leave power to the opposition and, deciding to go for an early election, it managed to hold power by winning nearly 50 percent of votes six months later in that snap election.
The re-run next month is hoped to be a revenge of the March 31 Istanbul election that was lost…
But, what if this expectation fails?
You possibly get the same impression from AK Party supporters around you that they even don’t want to bring such a possibility to their minds. They think, “No matter what, anything necessary will be done and victory will be secured.” They all remind the phrase, “pulling a rabbit out of the hat”. . .
There is another possibility
But what if their candidate Binali Yıldırım loses the election to Ekrem Imamoğlu again even if they would manage to pull more than one rabbit out of the hat?
There are only four weeks left to the election day. Ten days of this period are religious festive holidays. Many of the Istanbul residents will spend their holidays in quiet places away from the city. Will the remaining days be sufficient enough to change people’s minds?
The main opposition party (CHP) officials claim that their candidate is going ahead with a vote margin between three and five percent according to their surveys and those of independent organizations. They also believe that the wind blows in favor of their candidate. It is seen that they work hard to look out for ballot boxes better this time.
A leading figure from their managing campaign group told me, “Not only an A-plan, we have B, C, D plans as well.”
I wouldn’t wish the AK Party candidate Binali Yıldırım to hear what I am suggesting now: Theresa May had become the party leader and the prime minister in political conditions created by a turmoil. She was considered to be the only person who would be able to steer the country forward. Now, however, she is leaving the office in tears, and harshest words are uttered behind her by the people who run the party’s propaganda machine.
Well, this is what politics is all about.
[Translated by Bernar Kutluğ from the the article appeared in this site’s Turkish section on May 25, 2019]