'Are we Jews going to flee Turkey? Of course not'

The Turkish election results could provide mixed outcomes for the Jewish community, a prominent local figure told 'The Jerusalem Post' on Monday.

November 3, 2015 05:54
2 minute read.

Turkish elections 2015: What does it mean for the Jewish community

Turkish elections 2015: What does it mean for the Jewish community


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The Turkish election results could provide mixed outcomes for the Jewish community, a prominent local figure told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

“Considering that the Jewish community mostly consists of middle-class citizens engaged in family businesses and employed in the private sector, the election outcome is not terrible news,” Selin Nasi, an expert on Turkey and a columnist for Jewish Turkish weekly Salom, and a regular contributor to Hurriyet Daily News told the Post.

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“To be frank, I don’t think it is appropriate to frame the outcome of the election as a threat to the Jewish community in particular, or to present it as a struggle between the secularists and the conservatives. It would be too reductionist. There are a number of factors that contributed to the AKP’s victory and the Jewish community is not immune to these trends,” she said.

“Sure, on the other side of the coin, the rise of conservatism in political and cultural arenas can be perceived as a threat to secular lifestyles.” In addition, the authoritarian measures of the government such as the ban on media or the crackdown on popular protests are met with concern, due to the growing polarization in society, she said.

Nasi stressed that her views are hers alone and that she does not speak on behalf of the Jewish community.

Nasi pointed out that Jews are an important part of Turkey and depend on the country’s democratic system of government.

“We need to make sure that democracy is the only game in town,” she said.

The Jewish Turkish intellectual insisted that there should not be the perception that there is a struggle going on between the government and the Jewish community. “It is an incorrect approach.”

While there is no recent study on the voting behavior of Turkish Jews, Nasi claims that they traditionally vote for the center-right parties.

“The AKP is a conservative party with an Islamist tone, but it strikes a chord with the business sector as well.” The AKP promised stability and the economic indicators the day after the elections show that the stock market shot up sharply, she continued.

In the upcoming weeks, “we will realize how the AKP will prefer to use this power,” she said, noting that the government’s legitimacy rests on the consent of half of the population in the country.

“If the AKP perceives the election outcome as a blank check, it may resort to a hawkish tone, but if the party officials interpret the outcome as a second chance given by the party base, which punished the party for its arrogance, then they are likely to follow a moderate and more inclusive policy line.”

The determining variable here, predicts Nasi, will be the government’s handling of the Kurdish question, since it is a matter of both domestic and foreign policy.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s gamble to hold a second election went extremely well and he succeeded in convincing the masses that there is no other alternative that can maintain stability and security, she added.

“Without a doubt, the absence of a viable opposition to challenge the AKP contributed to the election outcome.”

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