Wildest dreams

So what do you do when you’re a small business man in a Turkish village, you’re not an AKP supporter, but the AKP candidate seems to be winning in your village and you need some favours concerning your business after the elections? Then you don’t support the AKP openly, because that would go too much against your principles, but you ‘support’ the AKP candidate. That is to say making a significant contribution to his campaign fund, but asking the guy to keep it secret, and you only tell your family. Then however the election turns out, you’re on the good side: if the AKP wins, the new mayor will remember your contribution and make things easier for you, and if the other candidate surprises everyone by winning, he will remember your open support for him and will also make things easier.
And the AKP candidate himself (it’s hardly ever a she), is he a real AKP supporter? Not necessarily. Many candidates who are up for (re-)election tomorrow used to belong to another party. But it’s smart to try to switch to the AKP, because it will make funding from the central AKP government in Ankara or from provincial administrations easier. I saw it again yesterday, when I was at Büyükada on an assignment. Büyükada is an island close to Istanbul, part of Istanbul’s greater municipality but with its own mayor. The Büyükada AKP candidate has been a member of another, rather secular party before, but switched to the AKP five years ago, before the last local elections. He won, and ever since more projects could be realized because the greater municipality, run by the AKP, soon started supporting his plans financially. He achieved more and better boat services to the mainland, and improved health care on the island, things like that. Some local businessmen laughed at the AKP brochure with the local mayor on the front page and said: ‘Not in his wildest dreams did he ever think he would be a candidate for a conservative religious party like the AKP.’ In a way, they laugh at themselves too: not in their wildest dreams did they ever think they would vote for a candidate from a party like the AKP. Like they will all do tomorrow. Because well, they have a business to run too.

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