Contrary to some predictions prior to the election, the incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan comfortably succeeded in winning the Presidential election (52.6%) without the need of a second round of voting. His party, the AKP obtained a parliamentary majority (53.7%), in coalition with the far-right MHP. However, the elections were held in an electoral environment characterised by a number of inherently antidemocratic limitations on opposition parties’ campaigns and the widespread occurrence of intimidation and violence. The experiences of the HDP exemplify some of the most blatant features of state led authoritarian interference in the campaign.
On Saturday February 3rd, a 28 year old far-right activist Luca Traini went on a shooting rampage in the small town of Macerata in central Italy. Over the course of a few hours, he randomly shot and wounded 5 men and one woman of African origin. He was eventually apprehended by police wrapped in an Italian flag, in front of a monument to Italy’s war dead, performing the Roman salute and screaming “Viva l’Italia”. Traini claimed that he had heard a radio news report detailing the arrest of a Nigerian drug dealer as a suspect related to the local death of a teenage girl Pamela Mastropietro, when he decided to get his legally held gun and “kill them all”, referring to the local African community. Notwithstanding the attack’s evident racial motivations, the aftermath of the shootings has been framed in terms of migrants as a source of tension rather than focusing on the far-right milieu as a generator of political violence.
Turkey’s ‘Operation Olive Branch’ is a marked escalation of its campaign against the Kurdish autonomous regions in Syria. The battle for Afrin, a mountainous, well defended region protected by a battle hardened Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) forces will likely be protracted and lead to significant civilian casualties, due to Afrin’s large community of internally displaced Syrians. It will further compound the ongoing conflict against Kurds in Turkey and lead to, as of yet, unclear regional ramifications.
On the 28th of July, a 26 year old man, Ahmad A. launched a knife attack in a supermarket in the Barmbek area of Hamburg, wounding four people and killing one. He fled the scene of the attack before being forcefully apprehended by some bystanders. The attacker, a rejected asylum seeker, was understood by the police to have been recently religiously radicalised. Hamburg’s Interior Minister Andy Grote explained that he was known to the police as an “Islamist but not a jihadist” and was suspected of having psychological problems. Prosecutors have asserted that he had no known connections with any organized radical network or group and that he had planned on dying as a martyr.