The last stop

The use of road, journey or match allegories to describe a political process is not specific to the Turkish political scene.
However, Turkish politicians are quite adept at using such journey and match analogies. We should further acknowledge that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a seasoned politician, is particularly skillful in this regard.
In this context, I think I should note that speaking to the Milliyet daily on June 14, 1996 in his capacity as mayor of Istanbul, Erdogan said: andquotDemocracy is a streetcar. We are on board until it reaches its destination. When we get there, we will get off.andquot In the same interview, Erdogan also argued that, andquotDemocracy is a means, not an end.andquot
Today, we can easily understand why Erdogan likened democracy not to a means of transport used for long distances, but to a streetcar, which is typically used for short distances. Those remarks he made long ago should have been enough to make us realize his true intention of not giving democracy a long ride. But we failed to notice it back then. Actually, along the lines of the same analogy, Erdogan didnand’t even go andquotuntil its destination,andquot but quickly got off at the first stop he believed to be suitable for his own ambitions, which can hardly be reconciled with democracy and the rule of law.
In the interview he said, andquotDemocracy is a means, not an end,andquot but didnand’t specify to what end democracy was a means for. The phrase andquotour cause,andquot which Erdogan and his followers have frequently used at election rallies in recent months has similar ambiguity. But everything is now crystal clear. Recent developments have taught us that they see democracy as a means to achieve their andquotcauseandquot which they refrain from defining clearly. What then, may be the thing they refer to as andquotour causeandquot? Can it be the one-man dictatorship packaged as an and”executive-presidentialand” system? Can this andquotcauseandquot be a project for reviving the caliphate through shady relations with transnational actors, including radical Islamist terrorist organizations? What really is this and”causeandquot of theirs?
It is not likely for me to predict what this andquotcauseandquot is, but it is obvious that the streetcar called democracy has come to a stop on the road to that and”cause.and” This stop is not the andquotway stationandquot Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoilu refers to in his election campaign speeches that place special emphasis on the andquotsecond halfandquot of the game. The June 7 election, which Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have made no longer an ordinary election for our 150-year-old parliamentary system — which had ups and down occasionally — will be the last stop, either for our democracy or for the andquotcauseandquot of Erdogan and his cronies.
If Erdogan manages to control a parliamentary majority that can amend the already tattered Constitution, there will be no obstacle with democratic legitimacy to his ambitions for establishing a full-fledged, one-man dictatorial regime. In other words, we will face a hair-raising paradox of democracy undermined through democratic means on Sunday. If the AKP secures a constitution-amending majority, June 7 will be most probably the last date on which we will have held a multi-party, democratic election that can still be defined formally as competitive, despite its unfairness and quirks. Such an outcome, desired so ambitiously by Erdogan — which requires the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand’ Democratic Partyand’s (HDP) to fail to pass the 10 percent election threshold — will effectively be the last stop in Turkeyand’s 150-year aenture of democratization.
Of course, there is also the other side of the medallion, as Turkeyand’s near future may be shaped according to a different scenario. If the AKP fails to secure the constitution-changing majority in Parliament on June 7 — and if it further is unable to form a single-party government — Erdoganand’s dreams of turning Turkey into a mafia-run family business will come to naught forever. In that case, the sinister journey to andquotour causeandquot will reach its final destination.
Such an outcome, stemming from a fourth partyand’s (HDP) passing the 10-percent election threshold, will wreck Davutoiluand’s dreams of the andquotsecond half.andquot Most importantly, it will send Erdogan down under the streetcar that he uses to drag the country toward a shadowy destination with a short-haul travel plan. An express train will replace that streetcar and will continue the democratic journey from where it stalled. This will be the beginning of the end for Erdogan and his accomplices in crime. If this result can be attained, June 7 will be the last stop in the journey to despotism that Erdogan set into motion by abusing democracy.
At this stage, diverse estimates may be made about who will win or lose in the election. But one thing is certain: The June 7 election will be the last stop, either for our democracy or for those who seek to abuse democracy and establish their dictatorship.
I hope the worst will lose!

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman