Erdoğan's political leadership has been very significant in the prevention of the Gülenist Terror Organization's (FETÖ) coup attempt. Thanks to his leadership, our nation escaped the coup atmosphere quickly. The heroic resistance of the Turkish nation, the extraordinary efforts of the law enforcement and the National Intelligence Agency, the resistance of the national elements within the military, and the efforts of the media, political parties, non-governmental organizations and the local administrations are a direct result of his political leadership. The role of this leadership on the night of July 15 and the period afterwards can only by understood by being analyzed from two aspects.
The first is related to the time Erdoğan asked people to go to the airports and squares on the night of July 15, right after the coup attempt took place. While everyone was trying to figure out what to do and was hesitant about what they should do, Erdoğan's call ensured that millions of people went out to the critical areas and opposed the coup plotters actively. This way, the coup plotters were outmaneuvered psychologically and the anti-coup front's confidence was boosted. The fact that Erdoğan looked very determined and steadfast in his speech consolidated this confidence even further. Erdogan's decision regarding the prayers heard from the mosques and his arrival at Ataturk Airport as commander in chief despite the security risks were essential steps in this success story. Prayers were symbols reminding people of the Independence War. Thus, people saw the struggle against the coup attempt as another war of independence and they all stood together against it.
The Effect of Social Information
The second aspect regarding the prevention of the coup is directly related to Erdoğan’s political leadership. Since 2002, Erdoğan has followed a political leadership which made the transformation of the nation and politics possible in Turkey. The nation gained confidence while opposing to antidemocratic guardianship structures. The political parties, bureaucratic formations and media which supported coups in the past had to transform. In the past, authors wrote about the "legitimacy" of the coup, political parties supported it and media reported it to the nation. The judicial bureaucracy in the first place, and civil bureaucratic structures cooperated with the coup plotters to ensure the period after was in favor of the coup. This way, military coups were normalized and politics was confined. This atmosphere also silenced the nation and deprived it from the confidence to oppose to military coups.
On the night of July 15, political parties passed an important test by opposing the coup attempt right away. All political parties resisted by not closing the Turkish Grand National Assembly even when bombings took place. Since media has developed a great deal in the last decade, it was obvious that taking hold of TRT would not mean much. Unlike the previous coup periods, social media played a significant role regarding the organization of the anti-coup front and informing us about the latest situation in the streets. With the resistance of the nation and the efforts of law enforcement, coup plotters became unsuccessful in some critical areas, and this news quickly spread in social media. This way, the nation's motivation for resistance increased.
Erdoğan's political leadership related to the e-memorandum on April 27 is also closely linked to the failure of July 15 coup attempt. The afore-mentioned memorandum was opposed in a stern way and was doomed to failure. This was a breaking point regarding the coup. When we evaluate this period together with the other challenges the AKP faced, we can see that this political party gained very valuable "political wisdom" throughout the years with each crisis that was encountered. It gained experience and even more confidence.
If Not for the Struggle Against FETÖ, the Attempt Could Have Been Successful
One of the most important elements of Erdoğan's leadership regarding the coup attempt is the struggle against FETÖ. After the December 17-25 coup attempt, Erdoğan saw the struggle against FETÖ as a matter of life and death with regard to the state's survival. He told the nation about the structuring of the state, the dangers of Gülen's organization, and the perverse concept of religion held by Gülen. He convinced the masses that this is a struggle we need to face. Although he did not receive the support of other political parties and some sections of his own political movement, he kept on fighting. If Erdoğan was not this dedicated in the struggle against FETÖ, the resistance on the night of the coup attempt may not have been sufficient.
If Erdoğan did not convince the masses that FETÖ is very dangerous for the future of our country, the anti-coup front could have been weak. The disposition in judicial and law enforcement institutions, especially a prominent section of management staff, was significant. Erdoğan also fought against supporters of this organization in the media and decreased their level of support. On the other hand, he took many precautions in order to eradicate their economic resources. Therefore, FETÖ lost power and got weak. If all these neccessary measures had not been taken, the probability of military coup's success would have been higher.