British historian Lord Actonand’s famous aphorism, andquotPower corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely,andquot unfortunately applies to all forms of government, including democracies.
As a matter of fact, this is where democracies excel compared to other forms of government. Thus, democracies allow the public to overthrow through peaceful methods the power that has gone corrupt as it becomes more and more powerful.
It is crystal clear that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have become corrupt as they have amassed power during their office in power for the last 13 years. Will the election held on Sunday identify and correct this corruption? This is the question everyone is curious about.
I must note that democracy cannot exist without universal suffrage and elections. But it is ludicrous to say that democracy consists only of elections. When you weaken democracy, which is a set of values, principles, conventions, traditions, rules and institutions to only elections, it is inevitable that any party which manages to secure enough electoral support to form a government will succumb to fascist authoritarianism. Taking democracy as consisting solely of elections will directly lead to the fulfillment of Lord Actonand’s foregoing aphorism.
Democracy is closely related to pre-election processes as well. As a very critical election is being held on June 7 with many controversies in Turkey, we need to take into consideration the ruthless acts performed in the run-up to the election as well. As pro-Kurdish Peopleand’s Democratic Party (HDP)o-chair Selahattin Demirtai noted after casting his vote, andquotWe can hardly say that we have held a democratic election and conducted a democratic competition.and”
Although he is supposed to keep equal distance from all political parties and act impartially under the Constitution in compliance with the oath he made on his honor and dignity, Erdogan came up with nonsensical pretexts to hold election rallies and urge citizens to vote for the AKP, and this alone is enough to prove that this election wasnand’t fair or democratic. Erdoganand’s efforts to boost the AKPand’s electoral support by organizing opening ceremonies for facilities which had been opened numerous times in the past — some of which didnand’t exist at all — and by conjuring up rallies such as the Headmenand’s Gathering or the Artisansand’ Gathering — for which public resources are used — violated not only democratic etiquette, but also the very basic rules of ethics. Erdogan held three to four rallies a day under various names and made public appearances on at least one national TV program every day. We will wait and see if he will continue to hold similar rallies after the election with the same pace.
In terms of abuse of public resources, the AKP was as politically impolite and unethical as Erdogan in using public resources at will in addition to the huge funds allocated to it by the Treasury. Thus, the AKP used the TV channels of the state-owned Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) as well as the state-run Anadolu news agency in complete disregard of the fact that these institutions are financed by the taxes of citizens with different ideologies. Furthermore, the so-called private media outlets which are controlled by the government and Erdogan incessantly disseminated the AKPand’s propaganda while the independent media outlets which are equidistant from all political parties faced all sorts of threats, silencing efforts and confiscation. In this respect, the powers that be of the period will always be remembered with shame for the foul behaviors and vulgar acts they performed in the run-up to the June 7 election.
Having militantly mobilized ministries, governorates, public institutions and even diplomatic missions for their partisan aims, the AKP gave people no opportunity to say with pride that we held a fair and free election in Turkey. Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoilu loudly lambasted and threatened every media outlet, social group and civil society organization which refused to lend partisan support to the AKP. The dosage of these threats was pushed to the highest level by the hatchet men in the pro-government media. Thus, they threatened journalists with arrests, media outlets with confiscation, banks with nationalization and firms with liquidation.
Even the regulatory institutions which are supposed to guarantee free and fair elections such as the Supreme Election Board (YSK) and the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTanduK) became part of the problem. Instead of securing a free and fair election environment, these institutions acted in line with the partisan ambitions of the AKP and Erdogan. For this reason, the security of this election created much concern and debate in Turkey. Although it is famous for the fast and reliable reporting of election results in all elections held in the last 12 years, the Cihan news agency faced systematic defamation efforts. Moreover, the Cihan news agency and Dogan news agency were threatened with cyber-attacks by pro-government circles. This seems to justify these concerns.
Due to widespread concerns that the ruling party would systematically rig the election, the biggest ever civil initiatives were formed in the country. Due to the fact that the public institutions responsible for the reliability of elections are under the total control of the AKP, private agencies as well opposition parties and CSOs do not trust these institutions and they are concerned that these institutions may be the very agencies responsible for rigging the election. For this reason, they are mobilized to ensure that the votes cast at the polls are recorded correctly.
The following statement by the head of a reliable polling company should be enough to portray the scandalousness of the situation: andquotOur research allows us to make predictions about the votes to be cast into the ballot boxes. Under these circumstances, it is impossible for us to make any prediction about the votes that will come out of the ballot boxes.andquot
Reasonable concerns about the reliability of the election results emerge only as part of the story of how a ruling party becomes corrupt as it attains absolute power. Despite this injustice which leads to concerns in connection to the ruling party, I hope that civil society organizations and opposition parties will act as regulators that will eliminate or revise the corrupt politicians and rectify all anti-democratic deviations.
I would like to reiterate this hope of mine with strong emphasis as I pen this article while the voting process is underway. I hope the election results will be to the benefit of democracy, the rule of law and the nation. I hope the worst lose!

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman