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From Football to Industrial Football to Political Football: The Slow Death of Ankara’s Sekerspor

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On July 1, 2015 a strange new team appeared on the Turkish Football scene. The team is Turanspor, taking their name from “Turan”—a geographic area of central Asia—that also gives the name to Turanism, the pan-Turkish ideology that drives nationalist Turks from the Nationalist Action Party (MHP). Originally it was seen as a political union between all Ural-Altaic language speaking peoples, later it became specifically Turkic as the other Ural-Altaic speakers in Finland, Hungary, Korea, and Japan were seen as too different by the first major Turanian intellectual Ziya Gokalp who wrote in the context of the late Ottoman period. Turanism is a very interesting ideology that deserves more than a just a passing mention and I encourage all readers to further investigate it, as this is an article mainly about football.

The president of Turanspor Orhan Kapelman made an announcement via the club’s Facebook page outlining the team’s purpose:

“Sevgili ülküdaşlarım, futbolun siyasallaştığı şu dönemde hangi takımı tutarsanız tutun , ülkücü teknik adamlar ve futbolcularla yeşil sahalarda yüreğini ortaya koyacak bu takım sizlerin takımı olacaktır”

“Dear fellow idealists [ülkucü means idealist, the widespread term for members of the MHP in Turkey], regardless of which team you support during this period where football has become political, this team with idealist coaches and players who will lay their hearts on the green fields will be your team.”

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Image Courtesy Of: https://tr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turanspor

The formation of this new team has also been seen as a potential rival to the recently formed Osmanlispor (Ottomanspor) who were promoted to the Turkish Super League at the end of last season. Taking over the team formerly run by the Ankara Municipality, Ankara Büyüksehir Belediyespor, Osmanlispor have been seen as a thinly veiled representation of the AKP’s neo-Ottoman visions of regional hegemony on the football field. But what’s even more interesting about the formation of this explicitly political and right wing team is its history.

The team have replaced the old Sekerspor, one of Turkish football’s most historic teams, currently having collected the 41st most points in the history of the Turkish top flight. For a more complete Turkish-language history of the team please see Tribun Dergi, who were kind enough to use some of my photos in their article. Kafcamus has written many articles on Sekerspor since, in many ways, the team’s history is a microcosm of both the history of football and the Turkish political and economic landscape through the years. Sekerspor were originally founded in 1947 as part of the Turkish Sugar Factory; as the game of European football was at its beginnings, the team was originally a source of amusement and recreation for working class factory workers. In 2004 Kafcamus wrote about the day he came to the stadium with friends after a long walk only to hear from police on duty that there was no game and that the club had closed. The sugar plant had been privatized—as has been the case with many formerly state-owned businesses during the AKP rule in its rush to wholeheartedly embrace capitalism—and as such the club was gone, pulling out of the 2004-05 Turkish Second Division B Category. It wasn’t the end, but certainly the beginning of the end.

From that day forward Sekerspor was consumed by the world of industrial football. In 2005-06 a construction firm, K&C Group, bought the club and renamed it Etimesgut Sekerspor with the help from the Etimesgut municipality. At this point many fading Turkish football stars such as Ahmet Dursun and Sergen Yalcin were brought in to bring more attention to the club (and, consequently, the construction firm that had bought the club). In one writer’s words they were becoming “Turkey’s Chelsea”, which was definitely not a good thing in many fan’s eyes. In 2010-11 the club moved to another of Ankara’s districts and became Beypazari Sekerspor, in 2011-12 the club became Akyurt Sekerspor, and in 2012-13 it became Camlidere Sekerspor. Only in 2013-14, when the club could no longer attract sponsorship from an Ankara district’s municipality, did the club revert to its original name. Then, in February of 2014, the club was kicked off of the sugar factory’s grounds since they were unable to pay the rent, even though the sugar factory allegedly had a fund of 60 million Turkish Liras that was supposed to go to the club. The club’s various moves and name changes from 2005 to 2014 were symptomatic of the club’s gradually becoming an advertisement—a business entity—rather than being a sports club. And now, it seems, the club has moved onto being a political advertisement; perhaps it is part of “post-industrial football”?

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Sekerspor Logos Through The Years: Images Courtesy Of: https://tr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turanspor

Maybe—but it is also part of a larger trend, the extreme politicization of daily life in Turkey. The ultra-nationalists of the MHP have been emboldened by their election success and are looking to make their presence felt everywhere, including on the football field, as a bulwark against any Kurdish success in the wake of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) electoral gains. Ultra-nationalist sentiment in Turkey has risen at an alarming rate following the elections of early June, with MHP members ransacking Thailand’s consulate in Istanbul and assaulting Korean tourists in Istanbul’s main tourist district following alleged mistreatment of ethnically Turkish Uyghurs in Western China. Even the government has gotten involved in this “rally around the flag”; regarding a possible Turkish war with Syria some of the rhetoric has focused on a Turkmen minority and the dangers they are facing. After the elections the AKP-led Turkish government is facing a crisis and, sadly, they see the solution in nationalism. Apparently such sentiments have also stretched to the footballing world, at the expense of one of Turkish football’s oldest teams.

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They Don’t Make Shirts–Or Clubs–Like they Used To. Images Courtesy Of: http://www.tribundergi.com/haber/dunya-tersine-donse-sekerspor

 

Bandirmaspor: One Small Football Team Does Its Best to Bridge Turkey’s Political Divide

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Bandirmaspor are a little known Turkish side languishing in the Spor Toto Second Division, the third tier of Turkish football. The club hails from a small district of 143,000 in the north-western province of Balikesir. Most people know the town for its seaport, a hub for travellers taking ferries across the Sea of Marmara to Istanbul. In sporting terms the club haven’t seen much success, having never appeared in the top tier of the country’s football structure. Their biggest claim to fame is that in the 1965-1966 season the team became the first “district” team—one not hailing from a provincial center—to play in Turkey’s professional football league. Today, they may have achieved another first: Bringing together members of Turkey’s three largest political parties.

The club has debts of 5,200,000 Turkish Liras (about 1,902,000 USD) and was on the brink of going into receivership before the club voted in a new board made up of an unlikely coalition. The leaders of the district organizations of Turkey’s three major political parties—the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Republican People’s Party (CHP), and Nationalist Action Party (MHP)—put forth the names of politicians and businessmen in the district in order to find a new board of directors. The club’s honorary President Dursun Mirza, the district’s Mayor from the CHP who won 45.8% of the vote in 2014, explained:

“Yeni yönetim listesinde siyasetçi var ama siyaset olmayacak. Dayanışmayı kurduk, güzel bir yönetim oluştu. Belediye olarak, devamlı bu takımın arkasında olacağız. Hepimiz Bandırma partisi için bir araya geldik. Tüm partilerin ilçe başkanlarına, olumlu yaklaşımlarından dolayı teşekkür ederim.”

“There are politicians in the new administration but there won’t be any politics. We established solidarity and a good administration has been formed. As a municipality we will continually be behind this team. We all came together for the Bandirma party. I thank the leadership of all the district’s [political] party’s for their positive approach.”

In the board of directors of the Bandirmaspor football team we have a microcosm of the Turkish political scene as it stands in June of 2015. With the aforementioned three parties at loggerheads over forming a coalition government following the elections, their representatives have been able to come together in one small district to run the local football team. Running a country is obviously more difficult than running a football team, but such small attempts at mutual understanding during such divisive times are worth celebrating all the same.

Below I have compiled a list of the new board of directors at Bandirmaspor. After each name is their political affiliation as I could best ascertain from various news sources. Some are businessmen and therefore do not have any published political affiliations as far as I could find. This list is by no means one hundred percent correct; it is just my attempt to make things as clear as possible with a little bit of research. I apologize in advance to my readers and to the individuals listed below for any errors.

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Bandirmaspor. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/spor/futbol/29320289.asp

Honorary President: Dursun Mirza (CHP): Municipal Mayor

President: Erhan Elmastaş (CHP): Accountant and Municipal Council Member

Board:

Former President: Mehmet Kılkışlı (AKP): Head of Bandirma Chamber of Commerce and Former AKP Municipal Council Candidate 

Ozan Onur (CHP): Municipal Council Member

Murat Ercili: Businessman

Yakup Ataş (AKP): Municipal Council Member  

Adnan Tuksal (MHP)

Ahmet Edin (AKP)

Bahadır Çolak: Businessman

Tolga Tosun (CHP): Municipal Council Member

Hüseyin Baş: Businessman

Göksel Karlahan (AKP): Municipal Council Member.

Ozan Tüm (CHP): Municipal Council Member 

Mülkü İnci (MHP) 

Gökhan Yankol (CHP): Municipal Council Member

Mehmet Özbek (MHP)

Orhan Demir: Unfortunately I could find no information on this individual.

A New Turkey? Turkish Elections 2015

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On June 8 2015 Turkey woke up to a new Turkey, but not the “New Turkey” that AKP leader and current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been promoting over the course of his party’s uncontested 13 years of leadership. Instead, as many Turkish pundits have noted, it is a return to the old fragmented political landscape that dominated the country in the 1990s that paved the way for the AKP’s rise to power in 2002. There are some bright spots of hope peaking through the clouds but it remains unclear if Turkey’s politicians have the wherewithal—or desire—to clear away the clouds of uncertainty.

The Situation

The ruling AKP was looking to get 66 percent of 550 parliamentary seats that would have allowed them to get the 367 seats necessary to hold a constitutional referendum and change to a presidential system, allowing President Erdogan to raise the role of president from the largely ceremonial position it is now to an executive position. Instead, the AKP couldn’t even get the 276 seats necessary to rule on their own as the majority party; their share fell from the 49 percent they had in 2011 to 41 percent, giving them 258 seats as opposed to the 327 seats they now control.

This leaves three options. The AKP could seek to rule as a minority and go to new elections within 45 days if no government can be formed, as has been reported on the front pages of pro-government newspapers, but it is unclear as of now how the AKP can regain the votes they have lost to various opposition parties due to Mr. Erdogan’s polarizing rhetoric during the campaign and polarizing actions during his rule. In fact, this is the first time in the history of the AKP that they came away from an election having lost votes in all 81 of the country’s provinces. Therefore the AKP could continue to rule as a minority government past the initial 45 days with the other parties in question pledging their support but not looking for any ministries; still many pundits have said this scenario could lead to early elections in six to seven months.

The second option is forming a coalition government with one of the opposition parties, but that option seems unlikely given the sharp divide between all four parties. The main opposition, the secular and leftist Republican People’s Party (CHP), managed 25% of the vote and 132 seats but they stated before elections that they would not want to work with the AKP. As Ataturk’s party, this isn’t shocking. The election’s surprise package, the leftist and Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) that garnered 13% and 80 seats would be another option but their leader Selahattin Demirtas reiterated that they would not work with the AKP either, preferring to be a “strong opposition”. That leaves the right wing nationalist party—the Nationalist Action Party (MHP)—seemingly looking like the most likely partner for the AKP since they tend to get their support from Turkey’s conservative Anatolian heartland and many pundits think it was AKP voters moving to the MHP that allowed them to increase their representation to 16% and 80 seats from the 13% and 53 seats they won in 2011. Reality, however, is different and the leader of the MHP, Devlet Bahceli, is a veteran of Turkish politics and knows that to work with the AKP would mean effectively losing the 31 seats his party was able to gain. Unwilling to betray his voters, he said that his party was willing to be a main opposition and that “A snap election will happen whenever it will happen.” There is still, of course, room for maneuvering in the next 45 days and the MHP could be convinced to not give up a chance to be part of the country’s ruling coalition.

The third option would be a coalition without the AKP between the CHP, MHP, and HDP but that is even more unlikely. The HDP was able to gain votes from outside the Kurdish Southeast through traditionally CHP voters, shown by the fact that the CHP maintained a stable number of votes from 2011. CHP strongholds like Izmir Province (10.5%), Aydin Province(9.1%), Istanbul’s Besiktas district (13.2%), and Istanbul’s Kadikoy district (10.2 %) saw uncharacteristically large amounts of HDP votes and a drop in CHP votes from 2011. This is likely due to the HDP’s platform of appealing not only to Kurds but to other ethnic minorities, LGBT groups, and progressive liberals in urban areas. A voter in Istanbul’s traditionally CHP district of Sariyer said “In this election a lot of Turks abandoned their ideological preferences and voted strategically to derail Erdogan’s one-man rule.” But even if the CHP would consider working with the fellow leftist HDP (who, by the way, said they would support the CHP and MHP if they chose to work together) despite fears of Kurdish separatism, the ultra-nationalist MHP has implied that it would never agree to working with a Kurdish party. With the parties so divided it is worth looking at the few bright spots that are emerging as the dust settles.

 

The Bright Spots of Hope

The most obvious success of this election is the end of Mr. Erdogan’s megalomaniacal designs on controlling the Turkish political system. As many pundits have observed, this is essentially the end of any dreams of a presidential system. The AKP simply cannot count on the kind of support it saw in 2007 and 2011, and some have said that this represents the start of a downward trend for the AKP.

The AKP’s Neo-Ottoman designs have also been dealt a blow. Even if Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called to his supporters in the Balkans, Central Asia, and North Africa in his post election speech the AKP did not gather majorities from Turks living in many of these counties. In the Balkans Albania voted for the MHP, Macedonia voted for the HDP, and Bulgaria voted for the CHP. In Eurasia Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan voted for the CHP, while in the Middle East Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar all voted for the CHP as well. As an American I will also note that the AKP only managed 16.41 percent in the United States—the CHP got 44.32 percent and the HDP 24.05 percent.

The rhetoric of the HDP has also been refreshing and it looks as if they are trying to distance themselves from the violence of the past that took the lives of over 20,000 people in conflicts between the Kurdish separatists of the PKK and the Turkish military. As I hoped in the wake of the Gezi protests of June 2013 it seems that some of the CHP are beginning to empathize with the oppression minorities have faced under previous Kemalist governments after facing the same kind of oppression under the AKP. With the HDP’s rise to parliament there is hope that Turkish politics can move away from the zero-sum game that it has been and become more inclusive. The fact that HDP officials have recognized that they “will not betray their borrowed votes” is a good step, since the HDP took votes not only from a few CHP supporters but also a large number of AKP supporters, especially in the southeast, as shown in the graphic below.

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Image Courtesy Of: http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/secim_2015/294442/HDP_oylari_bakin_nereden_geldi__AKP_secmenini_sasirtacak_harita.html

 

The onus will be on them to match their words with concrete actions and put the days of violence in the past. Mr. Demirtas—unfortunately dubbed the “Kurdish Obama”—will certainly have a lot of work to do in order to clear up the image of Kurds as terrorists, with his brother currently living in northern Iraq as a PKK member.

The presence of a few minorities in parliament is also a step in the right direction and represents a step away from the push for Sunni Islam that the AKP has supported in recent years. 4 Christians—one from the AKP, one from the CHP, and two from the HDP—were voted into Parliament, along with two representatives of Turkey’s Yezidi community as well. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the CHP, had said in April that “We do not want division in this society. We want to grow and develop together,” when introducing the CHP’s Armenian candidate Selina Dogan. It is worth noting that his words mirror the rhetoric that has come from the HDP. Despite these glimmers of hope, however, there still remains much more to be done.

 

The Clouds of Uncertainty

The most obvious sign of uncertainty following the elections came from the economy, and pundits have begun focusing on the possibility of economic instability in Turkey. The Lira weakened 5 percent against the Dollar on Monday morning, exposing long-standing vulnerability in the economy, but there is still some optimism that the central bank could regain independence.

Economic instability is to be expected after any election in a divided polity, so it does not come as a surprise. The more vexing uncertainties that have been uncovered by this election are political. If the AKP is unable to form a coalition government they could play up the instability caused by the election results and campaign for a return to single party rule if early elections are called for. Burhan Kuzu, the AKP deputy and head of the parliamentary constitution commission, stated his opinion in no uncertain terms: “The parliamentary system is a curse for the whole world. In Turkey only majority governments ever worked, coalitions always destroyed it.” He then said that the only solution would be an executive presidency, and if AKP supporters are conned by this type of rhetoric it could lead to more instability—after all, election results showed that 60 percent of voters effectively rejected Erdogan’s push for an executive presidency.

Unfortunately, the three opposition parties may not be able to come together soon enough to forestall such a plan. The MHP does not want to deal with the Kurdish HDP and, sadly, neither do the hardliners of the CHP. Social media has been ablaze with articles like this one labeling the Kurds as, variously, “terrorists” and “murderers”, among other things. Mr. Erdogan himself called them “Atheists” and “traitors” during the election campaign in order to appeal to his conservative support base. Even if many liberals see the HDP’s rise as healthy for Turkish democracy it is still worrying that the one thing that the CHP and AKP hardliners—as divided as they are on opposite ends of the political spectrum—can agree on is a hatred for the Kurds. But what can be done? They were told to join in politics instead of taking up arms, and now they are being rejected from politics as soon as they have been able to get involved. It is also true that the violence inflicted on the Turkish state by Kurdish terrorists in the PKK during the 1990s is unforgiveable and left its mark on the Turkish people; understandably such memories die hard. Indeed the zero-sum nature of Turkish politics is solidifying and with this kind of mentality no one—except Mr. Erdogan, perhaps—will win.

We can only hope that cooler, rational, heads prevail and that true inclusive democracy can rise out of this difficult situation. The only road to a healthy—and strong—Turkish society rises in putting the hatreds of the past in the past, in order to heal the rifts created by the 13 year AKP policy of divide and rule. But the political situation is clear. There is no consensus but there are four main camps: The conservative Islamists, the Turkish nationalists, the Turkish liberal nationalists, and the Kurdish liberal nationalists. In fact, when you combine the two leftist parties (ignoring for a moment the ethnic divide) their 40% matches the amount of votes won by the conservatives of the AKP. In order to bridge the gap ethnic and religious identities must be respected but not underlined. Easier said than done.

 

NOTE:

Football also played its part in this election. Hakan Sukur, the former AKP deputy who resigned from the party and ran as an independent failed to enter parliament this election. Another footballer—and former strike partner with Hakan Sukur at Galatasaray (They were called the “twin towers” in the 1990s)—Saffet Sancakli was elected as an MHP representative from Kocaeli province. As the party’s fortunes go, so too do the footballers. With the Gulenists and AKP on a downward trend their representative from the footballing community bows out while the MHP, on an upward trend, provides another politician from a footballing background with a shot at a career in politics.

Turkey’s March 30, 2014 Municipal Elections Complete After Turkish Politicians Donned Team Colors on the Campaign Trail

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The Turkish municipal elections have come and gone, and finally all votes have been counted. Many out there are writing on the relevance —and irrelevance—of the outcome. As some may know, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won 45.43% of the vote nationally with 20,560,513 votes compared to 27.77% (12,567,556 votes) for the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and 15.27% (6,910,256 votes) for the Nationalist Action Party (MHP)—(For complete results please see CNN Turk’s election homepage, from which I have taken all statistics mentioned in this post unless otherwise noted: http://www.cnnturk.com/secim2014/).

Personally I am not surprised that the Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party won the most municipalities in this election—after all, most districts in Turkey are rural and therefore are part and parcel of the AKP’s main constituency. What is important, however, is how close the vote was in two of the three largest municipalities in the country, Istanbul and Ankara (The third largest city, Izmir, has been a traditional secularist stronghold and this did not change as the CHP won 49.66% of the vote in the province). In Istanbul the AKP candidate Kadir Topbas won 4,096,221 (47.92%) of the vote as opposed to 3,426,602 (40.08%) for the CHP challenger Mustafa Sarigul, and an even closer vote in Ankara (the results of which are currently being contested) resulted in 1.415.973 votes (46.33%) for the AKP incumbent Ibrahim Melih Gokcek and 1,383,786 votes (43.78%) for the CHP challenger Mansur Yavas. Interestingly candidates from the ultra-nationalist third party in this election, the MHP, won just 339,346 (3.97%) in Istanbul and 245,624 (7.77%) in Ankara. Both numbers are far below the 15.27% they garnered nationally.

At this point it helps to look at the results of the last municipal elections in Turkey back in 2009 (Again all statistics are courtesy of CNN Turk: http://secim2009.cnnturk.com). Then too the AKP won, this time 40.04 percent of the vote with 19,073,953 votes while the CHP garnered 28.16% with 13,413,030 votes and the MHP followed with 14.70% with 7,002,686 votes. Interestingly—despite the corruption scandals and ongoing street protests stemming from both domestic and international polices—the AKP gained more than five percent of the vote in 2014’s municipal elections (with just 1.5 million more votes, strangely enough) while the CHP lost just under a percentage point (with a loss of under a million voters) and the MHP gained under a percentage point (with almost the same number of voters). In the big cities is where we see a rather large discrepancy in the 2014 results, however. In the 2009 elections the AKP candidate Kadir Topbas won Istanbul with 44.20% (3,080,593 votes) over the CHP’s Kemal Kilicdaroglu who garnered 36.96% (2,578,623 votes). In the same year Ankara was won by AKP stalwart Ibrahim Melih Gokcek with 38.47% (939,465 votes) over CHP candidate Murat Karayalcin who got 31.50% (769.299 votes). As a note, this years CHP candidate Mansur Yavas ran for the MHP in 2009 and got 656,895 votes, and 26.90% percent of the total vote. This number is much higher than the MHP’s figure this year, which stands at 245,624 votes and 7.77%. What is clear is that despite the results in the rural provinces—which are the AKP’s breadbasket, so to speak—do not reflect on results in the urban metropolises, which have gone against the ruling party.

But what will this mean for Turkey’s future? Unfortunately, I have to say that it does not look good. Such a divided polity—especially in the cities—does not bode well for stability in any democracy. It bodes even less well in a country like Turkey, where the leader’s democratic ambitions have been questioned, and where widespread claims of voting irregularities (In Turkish and English) were answered in the most comical of terms. When questioned as to why electricity was lost on election night in several districts—home to mainly CHP support—in major cities and hindering the vote count, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz blamed the failures on a cat (in English and Turkish). The fact that this was not an April Fool’s joke is certainly cause for concern.

The ruling AKP government will certainly have to answer some questions in the coming days, but their hypocrisy recently makes me doubt that any concrete answers will come. Back in the summer I wrote a post about how politics were to be outlawed in the soccer stadium (also please see: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-322363-turkish-govt-seeks-to-curb-political-chants-in-stadiums.html). Yet, interestingly enough (and in a cynically hypocritical move), Prime Minister Erdogan did not shy away from donning the “home team’s” scarves when on the campaign trail in various cities—the CHP’s Kemal Kilicdaroglu, not to be outdone, did the same; pictures are below. So much for politics and sport being separate in Turkey.

And finally, on a lighter note, this is how some Trabzonspor supporters chose to vote. On Twitter—the same social media site that was banned in Turkey (a ban that President Abdullah Gul himself circumvented, in keeping with his occasional opposition of Prime Minister Erdogan), Trabzonspor fans gave their apathetic opinion on the elections. On their ballots they wrote “2010-2011 Champion Trabzonspor” in reference to the season they finished second to Fenerbahce, who were later indicted in a match fixing scandle, “My Party is Trabzonspor”, “labor’s fight against money” and “our vote won’t count but our conscious will rest’’. It is a strange—and strangely fitting—way to end this particular discussion on Turkish politics.

 

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Trabzonspor Voters Make Their Voice (But Not Vote) Heard (Courtesy: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/26116581.asp)

 

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The Culprit Has Been Found–A Cat! (You entered the [electric] Transformer?)

 

Football as the Opiate of the Masses? Turkey’s Politicians Don Team Colors on the Campaign Trail:

23607571 Prime Minister Erdogan campaigning in Sanliurfa province March 11 with a Sanliurfaspor scarf (Courtesy of: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/25981102.asp). Erdogan and the AKP won Sanlifurfa province with 126,637 votes, an overwhelming 60.76% of the province’s vote.

 

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Prime Minister Erdogan campaigning in Batman province with a Batman Petrolspor scarf (Courtesy of: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/26011564.asp). Erdogan and the AKP came in second in Batman province with 50,243 votes, 30.78% of the total. The Kurdish BDP won the province with 91,962 votes, 53.83% of the total.

 

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Prime Minister Erdogan campaigning in Adana province March 16 while carrying the duel threat of BOTH an Adanaspor scarf (orange) and Adana Demirspor scarf (light blue) (Courtesy of: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/26013823.asp). This is ironic on a couple levels. First of all, the two teams are–as can be imagined–bitter rivals. Ideologically, however, the irony should not be lost on anyone. Adana Demirspor are one of the most staunchly socialist teams in Turkey–the team was founded by the railway workers of Turkish State Railways (TCDD). They are, undoubtebly, the workers’ team. In fact, a few years ago the team faced “communist” Italian side Livorno in a well-publicized friendly–unprecedented, since at the time Livorno were in the first division and Adana Demirspor were mired in the third division. Please see this write-up on another blog about the match (http://fireandflames.blogsport.de/2009/09/13/socialism-a-la-turca-or-adana-demirspor-livorno/), and note the communist flags in the stands. Then think for the moment of the absurdity of a conservative Islamist-leaning Prime Minister campaigning with that team’s scarf around his neck. Oh, and by the way–the AKP finished second in Adana province with 63,594 votes and 32.38% of the total. The winners? None other than the (sometimes) fascist sympathizing MHP (whose supporters fought pitched battles with leftists on the streets of Turkey in the 1970s) who garnered 66,800 votes and 34.01% of the total.

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Prime Minister Erdogan campaigning in Zonguldak province March 26 with a Zonguldakspor scarf (Courtesy of: http://www.yeniakit.com.tr/haber/basbakan-erdogan-millet-pensilvanyaya-osmanli-tokadi-atacaktir-14004.html). Due to the large amount of mining in the region Zonguldakspor are also a worker’s team, supporting the miners. The CHP secured a narrow victory in Zonguldak province with 22,375 votes, 38.80% of the total while the AKP garnered 21,805 votes, 37.81% of the total (Results from Radikal Newspapers website (CNNturk.com still shows the AKP as the victor): http://secim2014.radikal.com.tr/ildetay.aspx?cid=67&bs=1).

 

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Prime Minister Erdogan campaigning in Ordu province March 25 with an Orduspor Scarf (Courtesy of:  http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/26073880.asp). The AKP won in Ordu Province with a majority of 95,244 votes, 52.02% of the total.

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Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu from the CHP campaigning in Kocaeli province March 15 with a Kocaelispor scarf (Courtesy of: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/26011498.asp). The CHP could only get 34,787 votes in the province–24.02% of the total–compared to the victorious AKP, which won 71,334 votes and 49.25% of the total.

 

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Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu from the CHP campaigning in Denizli province March 25 sporting a Denizlispor scarf (Courtesy of: http://www.haberler.com/chp-lideri-kilicdaroglu-denizli-de-5828037-haberi/). Again, the CHP finished second in the province with 237,144 votes, 38.76% of the total as compared to the AKP’s 276,927, which was good for 45.26% of the province’s total.

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Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu from the CHP campaigning in Karabuk province March 12 sporting a Kardemir-Celik Karabukspor scarf (Courtesy of: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/25993636.asp). The CHP managed a paltry 1,738 votes in the province, good for just 2.61% of the total. The MHP took the province with 34,463 votes and 51.81% of the total (Courtesy of: http://secim2014.radikal.com.tr/ildetay.aspx?cid=78&bs=1). I’m not sure whether or not the MHP candidate Rafet Vergili campaigned in the Karabukspor colors.