The President of the Eurasian nation accuses the Republican People's Party (CHP) of inciting a new coup

The threat of a coup in Turkey and the interests of the government

REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE - The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan

"Fear is a suffering that produces the expectation of something evil," said the philosopher Aristotle hundreds of years ago. However, Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been able to capitalize on his fears and has used the climate of uncertainty in the country in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to lay a legitimate basis on which to build a more authoritarian government. The current health crisis has hit the country's economy hard, just as it was beginning to recover from the last recession. In this scenario, the main opposition party, the Republican People's Party (CHP), has become the government's new target. The Turkish leader and the media sympathetic to his ideology have launched a propaganda campaign to accuse the CHP's supporters of orchestrating a new coup d'état against Erdogan.

The collapse of the Turkish lira, the high risk of three of his biggest banks to go bankrupt, the continuous support to the rebel militias in Syria and Libya or the successive area violations against Greece are some of the issues that have put Erdogan in the spotlight. Added to this long list is the endless campaign of speculation in some media that talks about a possible coup d'état to overthrow the Turkish leader, as reported by the Greek City Times. The exchange of statements has not stopped since 4 May, when Erdogan accused the opposition of having "a fascist mentality that cannot stand the supremacy of the national desire, democracy, justice and elections and still longs and burns for tutelage and coups". In this same speech, which was picked up by Al-Monitor, he went so far as to claim that the CHP's actions are guided by "a desire to usurp the country's administration through a coup rather than to come to power by democratic methods". 

 Billetes de dólares estadounidenses y liras turcas se ven en una tienda de cambio en Azaz

With these words, the President of Turkey referred to the statements made by the President of the Provincial Branch of the Istanbul CHP, Canan Kaftancıoğlu, several days earlier. Kaftancıoğlu said during an interview with Halk TV that she expected "a change of government and even a change in the system through early elections or otherwise in the coming period". The government considered that the desire for Kaftancıoğlu could be a "suggestion of a coup". Faced with this situation, the president of the CHP in Istanbul clarified several days later that she was referring to electoral alternatives other than early elections. "I said that the government will go for early or other elections, whether they are early, normal or rushed elections, and that I am already envisaging a change of system," she stressed. 

This reaction was not enough for Erdogan's executive or for the Supreme Council for Radio and Television, which supervises the stations and penalizes violations of broadcasting regulations. This institution blamed Kaftancıoğlu for "inciting the public to hate and enmity" and has punished the programme on which she was interviewed by cancelling its broadcasts for five weeks. On the other hand, the council, controlled by Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party, fined Halk TV 5 per cent of its monthly income, according to information gathered by Al-Monitor.

The vice-president of the CHP, Özgür Özel's, also announced a few days ago that "the end of the Palace regime will come. It will end all these allocations and all these injustices that will ruin Atatürk's bones," said the Greek City Times after having access to these statements. "While we continue our struggle on many fronts, from the epidemic to the fight against terrorism and economic attacks, we also have to deal with the opposition. We are facing a dark mentality that applies to all roads. We will not let this fascist mentality that can harm our country and our nation harm us. In addition to responding to every slander, every distortion, we have to bring them together by explaining our own vision and actions," Erdogan said in response to these statements. 

El presidente de Turquía, Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Speculation surrounding a possible coup d'état has led Ahmet Mahmut Unlu - a popular Muslim televangelist - to announce that in one of his dreams he was able to see himself arrested. "There is a danger of a coup d'état. In my dream I was stopped, taken out of my car and asked my identity. A coup, God forbid." In this same video he warned that the danger, this time, was not from the Gulenistas as in the attempted coup in 2016. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party have repeatedly accused Gülen's movement of being behind the military coup that took place four years ago, something the latter firmly denies. Meanwhile, the Turkish opposition considers the events of the night of 15 July to be a "planned coup" aimed at liquidating opposition soldiers and members of civil society organisations. 

Currently the opposition also believes that accusing the CHP of coup d'état serves to create a "climate of fear" of the coup, a scenario that could serve the interests of the government in different ways, according to Al-Monitor. "The first is to lay the legitimate foundation for a more authoritarian government. Another likely goal is to invigorate the foundations of the government, which the economic crisis has weakened, and to rally them around Erdogan through polarization and fear of the coup," they have warned. Be that as it may, this campaign of spreading false news is taking a back seat, as the economic crisis continues to cause uncertainty in a country whose coronavirus death toll is now around 4,000.