BuLENT – Report of situation ahead of the critical election

Report of situation ahead of the critical electionOnly days are left before the country’s president is elected directly by the public. Voting procedures for Turkish citizens living abroad, except those who will cast their votes at border crossings while traveling, are completed.

In these circumstances, we must make an analysis of the situation.Almost everyone agrees that this election will be no ordinary presidential election but will rather be an election about regime change.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan does not nurture any ethical concerns about conducting his presidential campaign without resigning from office, using the public resources and facilities at will and turning a blind eye to the principle of “conflicting interests.” And he believes that whatever the powers and authorities defined in the Constitution, a president who is elected to office by direct popular vote should be as powerful as the president of a presidential system but free from the checks and balances.

However, the country’s regime is still a republic, despite all efforts to deprive the country of this characteristic, and the prime minister and his cronies are careful to come up with a definition that is formally suitable for this regime, instead of their expectations for it. That is, they don’t have the courage or sincerity to say that they want the president to be as powerful as a “sultan.

” Yet everyone knows that this leader, who is wallowing in a mire of graft, bribery and corruption along with his close circles, will not be satisfied with performing ordinary presidential duties with the power he will attain with the popular support that he can muster using high doses of propaganda and perception management tactics. He is a type of leader such that with all his acts and words, he is making everyone feel that he intends to establish a despotic sultanate which would completely remove the remaining traces of the democratic legal system that is largely paralyzed, as well as prevent the democratic opposition from investigating the allegations of graft, bribery and corruption.

As his most essential concern is to cover up corruption and bribery charges against himself, his relatives and close circles, this leader does not bother to hide his intentions. In the ubiquitous propaganda materials and posters you come across everywhere, he is referred to not as a “sultan” but as a “chief.

” Given current developments and circumstances, this leader pushes majoritarianism instead of pluralism, power instead of justice, tyranny instead of fairness, polarization instead of social harmony and consensus and unlimited agitation and provocation instead of calmness and peace, and he is searching for ways to boost his already high anti-democratic power with his incessant lies, slanders and high dose of hate speech. His obsession with becoming the “chief” is as innocent as Benito Mussolini’s desire to become “Il Duce” or Adolf Hitler’s ambition to become “Fuhrer”Indeed, ErdoIan seeks to become the “chief” whose power and legal irresponsibility can readily be replaced with those of a “sultan” and I believe ErdoIan is ready to do or abuse everything to attain this goal.

In the final analysis, the current level of unlawfulness involves allegedly even using a fake license plate on the official car allocated to the prime minister, even though it is unlawful to use public resources during campaigning under the election law. The fact that ErdoIan has turned the state-owned Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) and Anatolia news agency, which are supposed to stick to the principle of objective public broadcasting, into his personal propaganda machine is enough to show that elections are being conducted in an unfair and anti-democratic climate.

In a country in which the media outlets are carefully engineered to behave as the smear campaign mouthpieces of ErdoIan by taking them under government control by illegitimate and unethical methods or by ensuring that they are acquired by pro-government businessmen using funds accumulated through the abuse of public resources or by exerting pressure on them with public resources, elections will be as democratic as you might expect in the Syria of Bashar al-Assad, the Egypt of Hosni Mubarak or the Iraq of Saddam Hussein. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) nurtures similar concerns that it has not only made repeated statements to this effect, but also established an election observation office in Turkey.

Isn’t there any possibility of stopping this antidemocratic mentality, unlawfulness and immorality which is manipulating election laws, paralyzing the judiciary — which is supposed to act as a guarantor for democratic elections — and turning it into a pro-government instrument, allegedly gerrymandering the recent elections and using public resources in an unrestricted manner for political purposes? Of course, at this stage, it is wrong to say that there is no possibility of stopping this. Indeed, the presidential election to be held on Sunday is crucially important for protecting the democratic republic, the parliamentary system, the rule of law, the unity of the nation, the integrity of the country, the social texture, the freedoms of the press, expression, assembly and other freedoms, and we need to keep our hopes alive.

ErdoIan publicly announces that he won’t respect the limits the Constitution imposes on the powers and authorities of the president and this election is the final opportunity for us to prevent ErdoIan from establishing one-man rule by taking the executive, legislative and judicial powers under his total control. Of course, ErdoIan, whose game plan consists of winning the election in the first round, is the favorite candidate in this election.

For this reason, the threat to the republican regime, democracy and the rule of law is tremendous. But this does not mean that Ekmeleddin IhsanoIlu, who is backed by virtually all opposition parties and social groups who are not ErdoIan’s supporters, does not have chance.

Unlike many political observers, I don’t think the 43-percent vote the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) secured in local elections of March 30 consists of hardcore and guaranteed support to ErdoIan. Even assuming that there is still this 43-percent support for ErdoIan, has he done anything to push this support above 50 percent since March 30?In the final analysis, the foreign policy failures regarding Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, the hostage crises in Mosul, the EU and US policies can be listed one after another Inconsistent, unfounded and unrealistic policies undermined Turkey’s prestige at an unprecedented level, both in the West and in the East.

The polarizing hatred and hostility rhetoric used by ErdoIan, his spin doctors and ardent supporters, which has already gone beyond hate speech, has undermined social peace. Additionally, ErdoIan and his ministers meddle so frequently and arbitrarily in the judicial system that it is no longer possible to say that the rule of law is cherished in Turkey.

The operations conducted on July 22 and Aug. 5 with empty files and unfounded accusations were the terrible consequences of this deterioration in the judiciary.

Moreover, the regression in fundamental rights, especially in the freedoms of press and speech, in only a few years took Turkey back to 30 years ago.Although the ErdoIan-led government and media continue to paint a rosy picture about the country’s economy, there are heightened concerns that Turkey may be on the verge of a major economic crisis.

These concerns are also voiced by certain ministers who manage to maintain their common sense.Therefore, it seems more reasonable for me to ask “Does ErdoIan still maintain his 43-percent support?” than to expect him to push his electoral support above 50 percent.

In these circumstances, it is known that ErdoIan relies on two strategic voter banks which will come to his rescue in the second, if not in the first, round: About 3 million Turkish citizens living abroad who will cast their votes for the first time, and the pro-Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Kurds whose support have been bought after negotiations.With the 5-percent turnout rate among Turkish voters abroad, one leg of ErdoIan’s two-legged escape strategy completely collapsed.

Naturally, the king-making Kurdish votes became all the more important and strategic. However, the strong style of Selahattin DemirtaI, who is nominated by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), can be seen as proof that Kurdish votes won’t come in the first round for ErdoIan.

We can even expect that it won’t be easy to convince Kurds to support ErdoIan in the second round after being so agitated in the first round. ErdoIan is aware of this and he is masterminding unethical moves against the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the nationalist supporters of the Grand Unity Party (BBP) and certain conservative groups who are not warming to ErdoIan through deception and perception engineering.

Thus although ErdoIan is aertised as the favorite of the election, we must note that IhsanoIlu, whose kindness and politeness are being appreciated by many, might make a big surprise. Oddly enough, whether Turkey will move toward democracy and the rule of law or toward becoming one of the ordinary despotic countries of the Middle East is dependent on this surprise.


SOURCE: Today’s Zaman