Nov. 1 Hope for democracy in the face of tyranny

Yesterday was the 92nd anniversary of the Turkish Republic. Hard fought for and won, against all odds the republic still survives — albeit under extremely precarious conditions.
In the lead up to the countryand’s most crucial election the Turkish Republic is under siege. Its judiciary has been hollowed out, its police forces have become a tool of partisanship, its media dominated by pro-government mouthpieces, its intellectuals under severe pressure and its businesses intimidated. That is not what we had in mind only eight years before the republicand’s centenary. We all carry a collective responsibility for where we are now. On Sunday, this republic will witness yet another election. An election that was marked by extremely unfair conditions, whereby the ruling party used state and municipality resources, where the media was put under extreme pressure and was finally physically seized and where terror and violence has been exploited for political aims.
This week the republic has been witness to an open violation of our Constitution whereby a major media group has been seized and its broadcast and printing activities illegally suspended. In the same week, it has witnessed a clear contradiction between the government and the Ankara Chief Prosecutorand’s versions of who was responsible for the heinous Ankara twin bombing that stole 102 hearts from us. The government deliberately blurred the picture as to who was responsible for the attack and managed to convince close to 30 percent of the country that the Kurdistan Workersand’ Party (PKK) bombed unionists and supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Ankara.
Sundayand’s election result will mark yet another milestone in the quest to facilitate a normal democracy. The only force left to stop the forceful assault to transform the republic into an authoritarian pariah is the electorate. How the electorate will respond to the last five months is difficult to predict. In a most contradictory manner, most public opinion polls show an increase in the Justice and Development Party (AKP) vote. However, this election may produce surprise results as we have a very peculiar atmosphere in the country.
The republic has, since 1960, had a relatively established history of fair elections. However, there are concerns that irregularities may occur on Sunday. As we have seen in the local election in Ankara in March 2014, there are people out there who are willing and capable of engaging in election fraud. Given the desperate attempts to silence critical media this week, concern for election security has increased. Not only election security but also proper reporting about election results is under threat. All eyes will be on whether the Cihan news agency will be able to report the election results properly and whether the media will be able to broadcast those results.
The only positive development this week was the increasing sense of solidarity among different actors in the opposition camp. This will be critical in the future regardless of the election outcome. We are conscious that we are at the beginning of a long journey to rid ourselves of a dangerous creeping authoritarianism. Letand’s set the record straight about where we stand: We will not bow to the authoritarianism that is intent on derailing the republic. Not ever!

SOURCE: TODAYS ZAMAN