Deniz feels like a stranger in his own country. Turkey is becoming "more and more Arab," she says. If President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is re-elected next Sunday, she would prefer to emigrate. "After the run-off election, we will decide," she says. "If things get bad, we can sell all our possessions and buy a house in Croatia, Cyprus or Portugal."
Political correspondent for Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan based in Ankara.
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It was only two weeks ago that opposition supporters were full of hope. Then came election night on May 14. Since then, disillusionment has prevailed. Contrary to what pollsters had predicted, the incumbent was well ahead of his challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the first round of voting. He could still have sold his result as a victory. Never before has a challenger managed to force Erdogan into a run-off election. Instead, Kilicdaroglu went into hiding for four days.
This is one of the reasons why he is struggling to spread confidence now. The old debates have long since returned. The emigration plans. The fears of an Islamization of Turkey. Activists' worries about being dragged to court. The doubts as to whether it is even possible to oust the authoritarian ruler Erdogan from power through elections. And the anger at those fellow citizens who voted for him again despite the economic crisis.
Turkish society is deeply divided
For a time, Kilicdaroglu's campaign, including campaign rhetoric, had obscured the deep rift that divides Turkish society. For Deniz, whose real name is different, he is now all the more visible. On the one hand, she sees Erdogan's supporters. On the other hand, she sees herself: an Alev, a Turkologist by training, a working mother of two toddlers who wants her sons to be free to decide later whether they want to be atheists or Muslims.
Turkish visa agencies expect a new rush in the event of Erdogan's re-election. Deniz and her husband applied for a green card in the United States. Your application was denied. Now Deniz is learning Korean. Her grandfather fought on the side of the UN troops in the Korean War in the fifties. That's why she thinks she has a chance of winning a scholarship from South Korea. Her husband, a trained German teacher, has been trying in vain for six years to get a job as a civil servant. He is convinced that members of Erdogan's AK Party would be preferred. "The examiners have lists of names," he says. If it were up to him, the family would stay anyway. "We have to resist a little longer. This, after all, is our country."
There are many indications that Erdogan would continue his authoritarian course in another term in office. A ban on the pro-Kurdish HDP, the third largest opposition party, would be conceivable. The procedure is nearing completion. The trial of vice-presidential candidate Ekrem Imamoglu is also pending a final verdict. He faces imprisonment and a political ban for insulting officials. For example, Erdogan could exclude the popular mayor of Istanbul from re-election before next year's local elections.
Women's rights are further restricted
Women's rights activist Ipek Bozkurt expects repression against civil society to continue to increase. "That's what he's done for the past two terms. His followers seem to be happy with that." The clearer the election victory, the more Erdogan will feel empowered. For the organization that Bozkurt supports as a lawyer, this could have immediate consequences. The "We Will Stop Femicide Platform" initiative is subject to a ban procedure. The group supports women in court who have been critically injured by their husbands and parents of women who have been killed.