Analysis: Bad for Erdogan, good for Israel

Even though relations between Israel and Turkey are unlikely to improve, the election results could reverse Turkey's Islamization.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the UN General Assembly. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the UN General Assembly.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, because of the results of parliamentary elections, suffered a setback in his quest for gaining absolute power, relations with Israel are likely to continue to be poor.
“In the short run the Islamist AK Party, with Erdogan at the helm, remains the major political player in Turkey,” Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, told The Jerusalem Post. “Therefore, no improvement in relations with Israel is in the cards.
“Yet the elections results could be the beginning of a gradual reversal of Turkey’s Islamization,” he said, adding: “The conflict over Turkey’s soul and identity is not over. If the more secular elements get the upper hand, Israel could hope for better relations.”
Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the Post that the results of the election demonstrate that “Turkey is too big and too diverse for AKP and Erdogan to control single-handedly.”
The largely middle-class Turkish society now has a voice in the Turkish parliament through the Kurdish- liberal alliance, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), as well as in the ranks of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, said Cagaptay.
“With a record number of women, young MPs, as well as representatives of the country’s ethnic, religious and political minorities, such as Armenians, this will be the most diverse Turkish parliament ever,” he said.
As for Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s awkward campaign, Cagaptay notes that he basically ran a campaign against himself, telling the electorate, “Vote for me, so you can get rid of me, and then make Erdogan president.”
“If no government forms in 45 days, this could usher in political or economic instability, which could help the AKP in potential early elections by leading the public to support a single party government again,” he continued.
The attempt by Erdogan to sweep the elections and then usher in changes to the constitution to create a powerful presidency at the expense of the prime minister failed.
But Davutoglu did not have any say in the matter, asserted Cagaptay, adding, “Erdogan ran the campaign and decided its strategy.”
“For the Kurds, this is a chance for the pro-democracy wing of the movement to finally take over its violent wing.”
The HDP has entered parliament thanks to support from liberal Turks, “showing that democracy works, and more importantly that the future of the Kurdish nationalist movement is intertwined with the future of a liberal democratic Turkey.”
Regarding Turkey’s foreign policy, Cagaptay notes that the Erdogan’s government has been obsessed with ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad, “using nearly all means to this end.”
This policy will now come under parliamentary scrutiny and may be forced to become milder as a result, predicted Cagaptay.