State budget, state teachers and a political campaign

President Recep Erdogan answered a question about whose money he has been spending in his election meetings and campaigns. Without hesitation, he said, “I spend the state’s money.” He meant that he was using the budget of the Office of the Presidency. He was asked the question by Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtai because Erdogan has been conducting a much more active political campaign than even Prime Minister Davutoilu on behalf of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to win the upcoming elections. Every day, Erdogan speaks in at least a couple of rallies, he bashes leaders of the opposition parties, he blames them for all sorts of things and he of course, without naming it, wants people to vote for the AKP. In his recent rallies, he has even started to use the Quran as a part of his rhetoric. He underlines that he and his party members are devout Muslims, whereas Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroilu is distant to the Quran and calls members of the Kurdish political movement “Zoroaster.quot

Erdogan is the president of this country, who took an oath to be impartial and above politics. He, of course, violates the Constitution every single day. And he is doing all of this, in his words, “with the state’s money.” According to news reports, the expenditure of the presidency with Erdogan in office over the last 16 months is four times bigger then the presidential office’s expenditure in Gul’s entire term in office.

Erdogan not only violates the Constitution with his political campaign on behalf of the AKP, but also he creates all sorts of inequalities between political parties. Do not think that use of state privileges for the AKP is limited to spending huge amounts of money. According to the Diken news site, the Tekirdai governor sent a “circular” to all schools in the province through the National Education Directorate of Tekirdai. In this circular, all directors of the schools were instructed to make sure all teachers under their authority attended Erdogan’s local rally in Tekirdai on May 5. I suspect these kinds of orders are not limited to teachers. Most probably these kinds of circulars are sent to all public offices. But somehow, only this circular has been leaked to the public. I put aside the weirdness of instructing teachers to attend a president’s rally. How can this be a part of their duty? But if you ask this question to the governor or the directors of the school, they would probably say that Erdogan is the head of state, that he is no longer a politician. Really? In reality this is happening: All teachers (and probably all public officers) are being forced to listen to Erdogan’s AKP propaganda on behalf of the ruling party. All of which are just a small part of the inequalities created in favor of the ruling party. The ruling party uses tremendous media power to support its campaign. The state-run official TRT channel devotes large amounts of airtime to AKP propaganda. The AKP’s own media works for them, of course. And almost all other channels devote a huge number of hours to the ruling party. You can see Erdogan speaking live on almost all nationwide channels. Well, Turkey is still a democracy, of course we still have a “competition” between political parties. The problem is this “competition” is very unfair and biased.