The day after the local elections I stood on the sidewalk with my bags waiting for a taxi. I was on my way to a friend where I would stay during my last days in Istanbul. It was clear that AKP had won, even though the votes were still being counted.
After putting my luggage in the backseat, I sat down next to a smiling taxi driver, who immediately, as most strangers asked about my nationality, after wrongly assuming I was from Germany.
The radio was playing loud. Every second minute, parts from Erdogan’s victory speech, in which he promised to crush all his opponents, was aired. Now and then, the radio station also played pieces of the song specially written for the local elections with the simplistic but telling refrain “Reeeecep Taaaaayyip Errrrdooogaaaaan!”
“How is it going in Ankara?” I asked the driver. “Have they counted all the votes yet?”
“AKP won!” he answered while taking his right hand off the steering wheel, raising his thumb up in the air.
“45% percent they got” he continued.
“So what do you think will happen to Fetullah Gülen now?”
He again lifted his right hand from the steering wheel, this time imitating a razor blade cutting against his throat.
“He is finished!” he said.
We continued to talk about other things, but as the taxi came closer to my final destination, I wanted to ask him one last question.
“So, do you think there were any corruption? Do you think Erdogan is corrupt?”
He did an upwards nod.
“No! There is no corruption!” he said with certainty in his voice.
I sat in silence for a while, watching the expression on his face. He looked friendly.
“But…” I started, discretely smiling. “… This is Turkey. Aren’t most politicians corrupt here in some way? The CHP also, I mean.”
His face changed somewhat like he was preparing to say something, but he remained quite.
“Do you really believe he is not corrupt?” I continued and smiled.
At this point his facade broke down.
“You are right. He might be! He might have taken some money” he said almost in a whispering tone.
“So what do you think about that?”
“Well, he is the best we have!” he continued after a while. ”I like him! He is doing great things for people like me!”
As I stepped out of the taxi, grabbed my luggage and said god bye to him, I thought about the fact that AKP has had constant wind in their sails since they came to power in 2002. And when they were faced with their first real challenge, the Gezi protests, they managed to ruin their entire worldwide reputation as a progressive democratic party in less than a couple of weeks. After the corruption allegations, they now only have the poor and uneducated people left to vote for them. This is enough to win the elections under todays political circumstances, but is Erdogan able to provide another ten years of economic success and reforms, that these poor voters hope for?
That is the burning question.