The game of democracy and being a spoilsport

Democracy is a game with clear rules.
Those who intend to play the game of democracy must comply with its rules fully. Sine qua non rules are those that apply to elections. Elections are the means through which political wills shaped by different expectations of diverse social groups are translated into power.
However, elections do not represent all there is to democracy. Rather, democracy is put into practice using a set of more sophisticated rules and institutions. Thus, a democracy comprises a number of principles such as the rule of law, equality before the law, transparency, accountability, pluralism, guarantees for minority rights, protection of fundamental rights and freedoms and the maintenance of a competitive environment. If a political party fails to comply with these fundamental principles of democracy, even after emerging as the victor of an election with an overwhelming majority, it will certainly lose its democratic quality. In such a case, a ruling party may quickly move toward becoming a despotic or dictatorial regime.
With its rhetoric, vision and projects, a political party tries to elicit popular satisfaction and eventually assume power. Due to the results-oriented nature of politics, no political party seeks to remain in opposition forever. But it is part of the game of democracy, even if some political parties cannot secure sufficient electoral backing for their ideological stance, that their ideological position should be represented in the legislative processes.
In this context, the 10 percent election threshold is clear proof of our systemand’s anti-democratic nature, as this threshold hinders pluralism and fair representation. Every political party joins the political competition in order to come to power, but to be in the opposition, too, is part of this game called democracy.
No party can exist only to stay in power forever, ignoring the rules of the game. This is a clear violation of the fundamental principles of democracy. Acceptance of being in opposition is also inherent in democracy.
This is what, mainly, distinguishes democracy from other regimes. Unlike despotic, monarchic and totalitarian systems, democracy is the system most successful at ensuring that parties who have secured popular consent come to power, and that those who are deprived of that consent leave power peacefully. For a change of those in power in a monarchy or a dictatorship, another potential dictator must overthrow the existing one, or a popular revolution is needed. Democracies, however, employ elections to ensure the transition of power in a peaceful manner, provided that elections can properly reveal the national will through an open, fair, reliable and secure process. The election results of a country that lacks a competitive atmosphere include pre-election processes that may influence the results.
It is legitimate for a nation to punish a ruling party in elections if the party could not provide sufficient services, has failed to fulfill its promises and has indulged in corrupt practices with ruthlessness attributable to the belief that it will remain in power forever. If a political mob that has come to power using the means made available to them by the democratic system starts to instill its hegemony in all state organizations — the judiciary, the legislature and the media — those who raise objections can legitimately resort to democratic and legal methods to overthrow the corrupt ruling party in question. If the ruling party wages war against the opposition, blocking access to these legitimate opportunities, this proves only that that ruling party is not democratic.
A political partyand’s ascent to power through democratic means does not indicate that the party is democratic. The proof of a political partyand’s democratic quality is its readiness to come down from power through democratic means. In this context, whether the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been in power for 13 years, is a democratic party is yet to be tested. To our dismay, given the signals sent by a partisan president, the prime minister he keeps under his tutelage and their supporters, the AKP does not seem to be a party that is ready to give up power through democratic means and become an opposition party.
However, this attitude is completely contrary to the fragile spirit of universal democracy.
There is more to these actions that cannot be reconciled with the spirit of democracy. In a democratic country, when a political party is charged with well-evidenced graft, bribery and corruption, it is fairly obvious what the party should do. It should resign from the government to allow the judiciary to investigate the charges properly. In the event that the ruling party chooses instead to abolish the judiciary, it proves only that the party is not democratic, and its rule unlawful and illegitimate.
Furthermore, a political party that refuses to resign from office to allow for the proper exercise of judicial processes can be naturally expected to employ anti-democratic methods to rig the election results. There is no guarantee that this party will even accept the results of a rigged election, if it loses. Looking at the discourse of a political party which has largely dominated the state apparatus — and which has silenced the media, intimidated civil society and undermined the judiciary — we can imagine how it will act in the face of an electoral defeat.
As you know, ahead of the critical election at the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), some senior government officials — including a former deputy prime minister — declared that if the election proved unfavorable to them, they would not recognize the results and would see it as a coup. As the HSYK elections produced an outcome favorable to the ruling party, allowing it to take the judiciary under its full control, this threat wasnand’t implemented. We still donand’t know how the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would act if the HSYK election had produced results unfavorable to them.
As you will remember, there were three candidates running for president in the election of Aug. 10, 2014. One of them was Ekmeleddin ihsanoilu, jointly supported by many parties, including the Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). ihsanoilu, a reputed scholar, was an internationally famous diplomat who had served as the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). He was elected to this office with support from the AKP. ihsanoilu, who is better equipped in scholarly terms than President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, conducted a gentlemanly and respectable campaign. But he wasnand’t elected.
Referring to ihsanoiluand’s campaign, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoilu said: andquotHis nomination as a common candidate is an effort to import the Abdul Fatah al-Sisi [current ruler of Egypt] experience into Turkey. I am not saying this specifically with reference to Mr. ihsanoilu as an individual. They intend to put in place a transition period. They see that this does not work and they speak of the need for coalitions in an effort to create an image of a fragile Turkey. We will oppose any effort that will lead to fragility in politics.andquot
Now, please weigh this statement to assess Davutoiluand’s democratic credentials.
Who can say that a mindset like this — that likens the joint-candidate backed by opposition parties to the subversive Sisi and adopts a hostile attitude to efforts at coalition government in the post-election period — is democratic? Polls suggest that the AKP will emerge as the first party in the June 7 elections. What is at stake is whether it will preserve enough of its parliamentary majority to establish a one-party government. If a ruling party is afraid of the distant possibility of being in the opposition, we can hardly call it a democratic party. This fear tells us many things about the hostile words and unlawful deeds of the ruling party during its office in power.
It should be noted that when a political mob with no respect for the peopleand’s right to change a government through peaceful and legitimate methods tries to cling to power at all costs, this will invite serious problems for society. If democratic channels are blocked, it will open doorways to anti-democratic channels for a transfer of power. If a ruling party does not want to be forced to leave office and throw the country into chaos, it must respect the principles and rules of democracy. No one, especially the ruling party, will benefit from other methods.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman