“[The atmosphere of conflict] was not all engineered by the AKP, but very much so. But it was also very cleverly used. They used the mistakes of the others, like the PKK, for themselves,” Andreas Gross told the Hürriyet Daily News. In sum, however, Turkish citizens cast votes on Nov. 1 “in a mood of fear and polarization,” Gross said.
“An atmosphere of polarization and fear increased in the last days even more so. In the last two, three weeks there was an ongoing increase of fear and concerns about security,” he said.
Terror attacks increased the amount of fear in already fearful people to a degree that PACE remains unaware about, he said.
Stressing that the election campaign was not fair, Gross said the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was the “most negatively influenced and the biggest victim” of the election process. “The second victim is the Republican People’s Party (CHP) who also said they did not campaign as they would have had the violence not been there. Even the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is a kind of a victim, because they were the main target of the social engineering of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) as the AKP knew they could get votes only from them,” Gross said.
“The AKP concentrated on the 50 election districts in which they lost by only 1, 2 or 3 percent. This was all very effectively done. It’s very good social engineering,” he said, but expressed disappointment about the election process. “The price [people] paid, the violence and the people who died and were injured is incredible.
I belong to those politicians who don’t think that every aim allows every method,” he said.
Gross also said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan knew that “the more people are afraid, the more people will not feel [secure] and will head for authority.”
“He knew it from history, not only from Turkey. This is a general way to influence people,” Gross said, noting that people who do not share rulers’ opinions should not be seen as the enemy.
“But today all these people are seen as enemies,” he said. “The effect of the damage will take much more time than just now, 24 hours after the elections.” The Swiss parliamentarian urged Erdoğan to immediately resume the peace process.
“He has to show the will to take up this process. He has to re-establish respect for the media who do not share his point of view. He now has the power to change, to make a contribution to the right point. You can’t ask those who lost to be wise.” Turkey has to refine the track of democratization, according to the PACE MP. “In June, everybody was so happy about the progress, and this was wasted in the last five months at a huge price. Now those who profited from this can still correct it,” Gross said.
Gross also questioned how Turkish security organizations failed to prevent two major suicide attacks that killed 133 protesters between the June 7 and Nov. 1 elections, saying that atmosphere of fear captured voters.
“In a such a state with such strong security operations, such a strong secret service, do you think that somebody can make such an attack without anybody from this services having knowledge about it?” he asked. “I don’t say they did it. I don’t say they helped it. But I wonder if they really did not know about it.
Perhaps they did not know that it would be so heavy. But it’s irresponsible that they did not do everything they could to prevent it from happening,” Gross said.
Gross also said he did not have the impression that there was any manipulation of the elections. Asked about government claims that the PKK had put pressure on Kurdish voters in southeast Turkey, the PACE MP said it was unlikely on the grounds that such pressure would be counterproductive for the HDP.
“It seems that many more Kurdish people have been emancipated from the PKK,” the head of the PACE delegation added.