As Turkey sees a violent lapse in ceasefire with the outlawed PKK, the most common argument read in the press as an explanation is that this is an Erdogan plot to create chaos, thus earn votes in a snap election and usher his much desired enhanced presidency. It is a comforting clear cut explanation amplified both by domestic Turkish politics and international trends, yet, it is horribly misleading and far from helpful in understanding and responding to latest developments.
Even if there were to be new elections this year, there is no grounds to think that the outcome will be any different than June elections. Far from it, after a decade of pursuing half-baked policies and outreaches on Kurdish concerns and historic direct talks with the PKK, AKP has lost majority of its Kurdish voters due to a series of incidences from the Uludere bombing to Kobane to nationalist discourses deployed during the last minute attempts to stop vote loss in June.
It is the shifting Kurdish vote, both from the AKP, but also from a younger Kurdish generation that voted for the first time, and unprecedented level of turnout that gave the main surge for HDP to achieve passing of the 10% threshold. The much hyped Turkish 'left' and 'liberal' votes to HDP for sure contributed some, but in no way as decisively as it has been assumed. With the current developments, the Kurdish votes are not coming back to the AKP in the near future. Thus, HDP's 10% success is set to remain as it is.
The nationalist votes AKP lost to MHP are also not coming back. MHP has played its cards effectively in this process, and while commending AKP to finally respond to the threat of PKK, it has also condemned AKP for allowing such a wide space for PKK and letting these risks reach this level. MHP meets the strong nationalist vote amidst such a charged political setting and attacks by PKK more than the AKP, as the luxury of being in the opposition gives it the chance to declare a much harsher and uncompromising stand. In other words, the nationalist votes too are not coming back to the AKP in the near future.
Therefore, snap elections before the end of 2015 as assumed to be happening by many is a serious risk for AKP. There is no added vote value of such a violent lapse with PKK for the AKP. If it was merely about AKP's vote games, other parties could have responded effectively, and most importantly the PKK and Kurdish politicians would have refused to play the game Erdogan wants, which they effectively did in lead up to the June 2015 elections and caused the first actual loss to AKP since 2002. It is a bitter fact after all that we still do not have a coalition government formed.
It is indeed a universal rule; politicians will seek to expand interests and minimise risks in moments of conflicts. That applies to Erdogan, as well as to all other political actors in Turkey from Demirtas to Bahceli. For the most seasoned Turkey analysts, however, a few facts matter more than this problematic and superficial election talk: the legacy of a 30 years long armed conflict; deeply internalised patterns of escalation- violence- response between the PKK and Turkish Armed Forces; developments in Syria and Iraq and their spill over impacts on Turkey; Turkish state's short-term and long-term security threat perceptions of PKK and future of Syria and Iraq; macro geo-political shifts occurring across the region with serious implications for Turkey; a disturbed equilibrium of peace incentives for both the AKP government, HDP and PKK; polarised political and social atmosphere in Turkey that have fatally tied the peace talks to Erdogan's future by his supporters and opposers thus to temporary politics; attempts to manipulation of Kurdish issue for Turkey by Assad, ISIS and even Iran.
Only after talking about these complex issues could one ask what this might or might not mean for Erdogan. As I have often said; Erdogan is not a Jedi Knight. He does not hold a magical power that controls all of these factors and actors. That is why AKP lost in June, even when the hype in media suggested that the elections were set to be fixed in a Russia like authoritarian state that Turkey became. He is at his political weakest. His plans for presidency are no longer possible. AKP's maintaining of the government is the only chance for him and AKP's leaders to stop what might be a process that might very well be the end of their political futures, which will open the door for serious personal vulnerabilities.
Parroting Erdoganology to explain everything in Turkey through him is not analysis. The suffering of Kurds in Turkey have a century long history. PKK's crimes in Turkey and militancy have decades long bitter traces in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran among Turks, Kurds, Arabs and Persians. Almost auto-pilot out of proportion responses by the Turkish army/police and waves of Turkish and Kurdish nationalism they create have played themselves out again and again for decades to such a level that one feels a constant deja vu.
These realities existed before and will exist after Erdogan. What Erdoganolgy is only good for is retweets in social media, and for people who are deeply engrossed in Turkey's culture wars and zero-sum mental and political spaces to tease whether you are with 'them' or the 'other'. Yet, they leave us high and dry, none the wiser about how to take peace forward in Turkey, Syria and Iraq, and how to minimise the spill overs of a brutal civil war continuing, and how to ensure that short-term and short-sighted Turkish politics and suffocating culture wars do not cause more damage.