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Why did pro-government media fail Erdogan?

Erdogan’s choice of press corps for his Russia trip suggests that a more hawkish faction among the pro-AKP media is likely to gain access to the president’s ear.
A stallholder reads a newspaper as he waits for customers at a bazaar in Ankara, Turkey, March 26, 2019. Picture taken March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RC14A18DA6D0

As results were being finalized on the night of the municipal elections on March 31, most Justice and Development Party (AKP) elites were unhappy. One senior member anonymously told Al-Monitor, “There are two major losses that cannot be hidden. First, the CHP [the main opposition Republican People’s Party] now has control of six of 10 major cities.” In 2014, the CHP had won only the city of Izmir. He added, “Plus, in cities we won, we see the worrisome result in cities seen as AKP bases. In Konya, we lost 14.5%, in Urfa 11.5% and 10% in Antep. We had control of all financial and social means: commercials, polling companies and the media. How did this happen?”

Indeed, this is a question frequently heard after the shock of March 31 in Ankara. Pro-AKP entities make up almost 90% of the media in Turkey. Not only does the government run most media outlets, but it has also successfully silenced any critical and honest voices. The Turkish Journalists Syndicate reports that 133 journalists are currently in jail. The Turkish government exercises legal pressures on expression of opinions in public from social media outlets to all other platforms of communication. Add this to Erdogan’s intense campaign rhetoric centered on the survival of the country and labeling opposition candidates as legally dubious people, and it is quite impressive to see the accomplishments of the opposition parties.

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