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Monday 30 November 2015

Reverse transitology? Elections and political change in Turkey

David Madden (SEESOX Associate and Senior Member of St Antony's College)

On 16 November, Kerem Oktem spoke at SEESOX on Turkey after the elections. Othon Anastasakis chaired, and welcomed Kerem back to St Antony’s.

In the elections on 1 November, AKP won back the 10% of the vote they had lost in the 7 June elections, mainly from pro-Kurdish HDP and the extreme nationalist MHP. There were a number of explanatory models for the vote swing: manipulation of the vote, consolidation of the conservative right wing block, deliberate choice of Islamo-fascistic tendencies, and voter intimidation. In fact, although overall the elections were neither free nor fair, they were probably accurate in the counting of votes. Kerem inclined to the voter intimidation thesis, drawing a parallel with the election campaign of the Committee of Union and Progress in 1912, which is also known as the 'elections with a stick' and which got the CUP victory despite strong opposition.

Looking back, the 7 June elections had appeared to be the liberal moment, or the liberals’ moment. After a divisive and sectarian campaign, the AKP lost the single majority and almost 10% of the votes. The rising stars were Selahattin Demirtaş and the Peace and Democracy Party HDP, offering the promise of a pro-Kurdish party transforming into an all-Turkey party, and the possibility of a Kurdish-Turkish movement with a socially progressive agenda. But the AKP did not form a coalition, and Erdogan never asked the second party, CHP, to do so. Instead he called repeat elections.

Greek-American Radicals. The Untold Story

Adis Merdzanovic (Junior Research Fellow, St Antony’s College, Oxford)

At an event on 4 November 2015 chaired by Othon Anastasakis (St Antony’s College), this year’s A.G. Leventis Visiting Fellow at SEESOX, Kostis Karpozilos presented the 2013 documentary ‘Greek-American Radicals. The Untold Story.’ The film, which is partly based on Karpozilos’ own research and for which he acted as a screen writer and historian, documents the story of Greek immigrants to the United States that were active in the radical-left movements, ranging from the early 20th century until the McCarthy era.

The story of Greek-American radicals is so far not well known, as the US is hardly ever associated with strong leftist policies. Quite to the contrary, when people in Greece think of their compatriots in the States, they often assume that these must have been successful businessmen, engaged in the American way of life and pursuing the American dream. Yet while their numbers might not have been large, Greek immigrants nevertheless contributed significantly to the leftist movements.