United World International author Yunus Soner provided an interview to Russia Today commeting on the elections in Türkiye. Below we present the transcript of the interview.
Thanks for joining us today again. 5% difference between the two main candidates. Were you surprised by the results?
Yes, I fully agree with your correspondent here in Istanbul. The result that Mr. Sinan Oğan has achieved was a full surprise for me as well. Definitely.
Why was this a surprise?
Usually, in these elections, towards the end, the candidates except the main two opponents, tend to loose votes and to disappear. And Sinan Oğan is a candidate of a newly founded political party, which bears personal experience, but is new institutionally. So, it was questionable whether he had the organizational and institutional support.
On that background, I was expecting that he would achieve 1 or 2% of the votes. But he got much more votes.
Kılıçdaroğlu might have leaned too much towards the PKK to get votes of Oğan
Do you think he has a chance to become a king-maker on the 28th of May, in the second round? And if so, which candidate would Mr. Sinan Oğan support?
No, I think that the second round is actually decided. Why? Because there is a very clear result in the parliament. We have the presidential system here, but the parliament can block executive orders of the President very effectively. And the parliament has been won by the governing alliance, with an unexpected margin in fact. So I expect voters to vote for stability, for a government that works in harmony with the parliament, where Mr. Erdoğan’s party has already the majority. And so I expect Mr. Erdoğan to win the second round clearly.
And there is another question: In case Mr. Oğan decides to support the opposition candidate, it is still a question how many of his voters will follow such a decision. The reason is that Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu has made a lot of steps towards the PKK-allied political party here and promised to solve the so-called Kurdish question in the parliament in a peaceful way. That includes introducing some constitutional reforms. There are hopes on the PKK side for regional autonomy. And these are all red lines for the voters’ base of Mr. Oğan.
Therefore, it will be very difficult to convince that base to join that alliance and vote for Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu, should Mr. Oğan choose to do so.
Defeated political program: Normalization with NATO, speculative capital from the West and transformation of state
When we’re talking of alliances: you can imagine that, if, as you have predicted, the incumbent president Mr. Erdoğan would win at the end of the month, that might not go down very well with his Western partners, NATO, the U.S. and the EU. He has been a bit of a thorn in the NATO alliance, blocking Sweden and Finland’s accession, buying Russian air defense systems. How do you think will the West react to these elections?
I think the West has to acknowledge that those political forces in favor of it here in Türkiye have actually failed in the first round already. Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu’s main program was: 1. Normalize relations with NATO, 2. Get speculative capital from the West and 3. Constitutional reforms including regional autonomy as the European Union has been demanding for a long time.
Mr. Erdoğan attacked that program fiercely. That was actually his main point of attack on the opposition: That they were endangering the unity of Türkiye, the unity of the state. And that was the way how Mr. Erdoğan could convince a lot of voters to vote for him, despite a huge inflation, despite economic crisis and other problems. In their majority, the people saw that in these elections, the unity of the nation and state was at the stake.
And that program that the West was betting upon has already lost in the first round and it will also lose in the second round.
If that is the case. If President Erdoğan gets a remit for another 5 years, would he deepen ties with Russia? There are talks about building a gas hub in Türkiye, obviously, Russia has built a first nuclear power plant in Türkiye. And do you think he would take a more active role in the war in Ukraine, by mediating there?
I expect him to take a more active and mediating role in the conflict in Ukraine. I also expect the Americans and the Europeans to exercise pressure on him and his government.
Remember we had a terrible earthquake here which cost us 50 thousand lives and also a huge economic cost and the need for credit. So these economic conditions and dependencies that we have might be a point where the Americans and Europeans condition their economic support on their credit on concessions he has to make in the Ukraine conflict, by for instance joining sanctions or supporting Ukraine in a different way.
There will definitely be a lot of pressure coming on Türkiye after the elections. We are expecting that. But again, this election has proven important in so far as it displayed a 25% block of nationalist voters. This is a stronghold also against this kind of pressure and meddling into domestic politics, and also intervening into Türkiye’s sovereign foreign relations.
So I expect pressure on Mr. Erdoğan, but I think that conditions are not too bad to resist them.