Turkish Housewives as the Wild Card

I love this piece.

Housewives. That most put down group of women. Nearly always presented as persona non grata in society. Never doing anything meaningful or productive. And here they are, the wild card, in a vitally important election

Out of the 64 million registered citizens eligible to vote in Turkey’s upcoming elections on 14 May, approximately 11 million are housewives.

This silent, low-profile social group may turn out to be the kingmaker in the neck-to-neck elections, according to recent polls. 

Both Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the opposition’s joint presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu realise this and have promised policies specifically intended to secure their votes. 

For example, the AK Party promised in its election manifesto that housewives would benefit from pensions covered by the state, just like working citizens.

“The state will compensate one-third of the pension liability,” the statement read, adding that housewives would be regarded in the same way as workers doing hard labour. 

Kilicdaroglu also underlined his understanding that most housewives are religious and would like to have their accounts in interest-free banks as earning interest is forbidden in Islam. 

However, Oguz Kaan Salici, Kilicdaroglu’s deputy, said their party was still not as successful as it should have been.“We still couldn’t convince most of the housewives, but our efforts continue,” he said during a press meeting in late April. 

The number one choice

The opposition certainly seem to have a difficult task ahead of them.

If previous elections are a guide, it’s clear that most housewives prefer Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AK Party). 

According to polls conducted by IPSOS Turkey during the 2018 elections, Erdogan was the number-one choice among housewives.

Additional research by KONDA Research and Consultancy provided more detail: in previous presidential elections more than half of housewives voted for Erdogan, while only 11 percent voted for the Republican People’s Party (CHP).

eride Gur (55), a housewife and mother of two, said she would not change her political allegiance despite Turkey’s ongoing financial crisis, which has seen the lira plummet and inflation soar.

“Nobody can expect me to vote for CHP despite the fact that we have been coping with economic hardship,” she told Middle East Eye.

Recounting the first day of her daughter’s registration to university back in 2006, Gur explains why she would vote for Erdogan.

“My daughter was successful in securing a spot at a top university in Istanbul. I was excited to accompany her on the first day. When we reached the university, the security said: ‘Hey lady! You can’t enter inside!’

“I had just wanted to enter the campus, the garden. After a while the security came back and announced that all veiled women had to wait down the road not in front of the gate.” 

“This was the result of CHP policies.

Not AKP policies. Not Erdogan.

Veil ban

This strong support for Erdogan is not only related to the lifting of a decades-long ban on veil, but it is also linked to social services.

Through its separate women’s branch, the AK Party has introduced several social aid programs that particularly target nonworking women, in addition to providing child benefit payments and salaries for those caring for the elderly, which can include a woman’s parents or parents-in-law.

So, Erdogan’s AKP party lifted the veil ban?! Wow, that’s not how the western media portrays this party and it’s leader.

Lastly, Pepe Escobar wrote a piece for the Cradle

While I agree with his premise of their being much at stake on the west Asian Chessboard- I disagree with his premise that not much will change of the opposition wins the Turkish election.

“Yet Washington may be in for a surprise. Turkish opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has implied there will be a more or less continued balanced posturing of Ankara’s foreign policy tilt, while some observers believe that even if Erdogan is ousted, there will be limits to Turkiye’s pivot back to the west.

The opposition has been very plainly saying they will pivot back to the West and NATO.

He would steer Turkey closer to NATO and the West if he wins Sunday’s election.

Mr. Kilicdaroglu says he would strengthen Turkey’s role as linchpin of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Those statements don’t strike me as “balanced posturing”

Compared to the AKP statements

Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu has already made it plain that if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan retains power in the 14 May presidential elections, Ankara will neither impose sanctions on Russia nor violate the Montreux Convention, which forbids the passage of warships to and from the Black Sea in wartime.

Erdogan’s chief security and foreign policy adviser, Ibrahim Kalyn, has aptly pointed out that there is no war between Russia and Ukraine; rather, it’s a war between Russia and the west with Ukraine serving as the proxy.

This is why the collective west is heavily invested in an “Erdogan must go” campaign, which is lavishly funded to propel an oddly-matched coalition into the presidential seat.

I often get the impression that Mr Escobar has some personal bias against Erdogan. Just my opinion. But when he makes such contradictory statements it leaves me scratching my head.

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