The Turkish judiciary has dealt a new blow to the opposition, this Thursday in Ankara. The Supreme Court has confirmed a sentence of four years and eleven months in prison for the social democratic politician Canan Kaftancioglu, for some of her tweets, spread between 2013 and 2017. Kaftancioglu, head of the Republican People's Party (CHP) in Istanbul province , was the architect of Ekrem Imamoglu's victory in municipal elections three years ago, thus ending a quarter century of Islamist town halls.
Kaftancioglu's judicial ordeal for a few mere tweets, although not unprecedented in Europe, has caused outrage since its inception three years ago. There are not a few who consider it a "revenge" of the Islamist power for the loss of the great Turkish metropolis, in elections whose repetition he forced with controversy, only to lose by a greater margin.
The sentence for "insults against high officials" - among them, the communication adviser to the president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose house under construction he criticized - can still be appealed before the Constitutional Court. Canan Kaftancioglu was already sentenced in the first instance to almost ten years, a verdict that was upheld on appeal, but now the Supreme Court has reduced it by half. Said reduction is very important, since since she is under five years old, Kaftancioglu will not have to go to prison, as she has no criminal record. However, her political career is touched.
After attending the verdict in Ankara, Kaftancioglu flew to Istanbul, where his party's chairman, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, had called an emergency meeting of all CHP MPs. Shortly before, the political strategist had posted a video message on the networks in which she assured that "we will breathe together when we restore the rule of law for all."
Canan Kaftancioglu belongs to the left wing of a wide-ranging party, which includes center-right secular nationalism. In any case, as the networks show, he provokes allergies in the conservative bases of the party in power, both in substance and in form. Kaftancioglu, fifty years old, married and with a daughter, travels around Istanbul on a large displacement motorcycle and, needless to say, with her -short- hair blowing in the wind.
Although Kaftancioglu is a breath of fresh air in Turkish politics, within her own party there are not a few who see her as too modern and push in favor of more focused figures, to increase the chances of victory in a conservative society like Turkey's. .
Even Imamoglu himself, a politically moderate builder, is seen by the party as less suited to compete with Erdogan in next year's presidential election than his co-religionist Mansur Yavas, mayor of Ankara from the ultra-nationalist MHP. In any case, the harsh sentence practically closes the debate: "With a sentence like this, you cannot work for the State, or stand for election," concludes the CHP's lawyer, Dogan Subasi.
It should be noted that the Supreme Court has dismissed the accusations of "propaganda in favor of a terrorist organization" and "incitement to social hatred", but has maintained, with some reduction, the charges of insulting the head of state and public officials.
To the animosity that the Islamist bases feel for her, as a woman who breaks schemes, is added that of the deep state, among other things because of her specialization, as a forensic doctor, in the detection of torture. Kaftancioglu was also key in the bid to build bridges to the Kurdish left, whose tactical vote in favor of Imamoglu -and Yavas- was decisive in seizing the big cities from Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Those bridges, since then, have deteriorated and, in the alliance of six opposition parties recently presented to end the twenty years of Islamism in power, the pro-Kurdish HDP is no longer there.
Today's sentence is added to those of a month ago, when an Istanbul court sentenced the millionaire and activist Osman Kavala -"Soros's man in Turkey", in the words of Erdogan- to life imprisonment "for sedition" and to several years jail several members of civil society, "for collaboration".