What to expect from Abdullah Gul

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- In recent months Turkish political observers have been for the most part discussing the following question: What will Abdullah Gul do? It is not just a question for journalists to make predictions about the future of Turkey, it is also a big question for the opposition to determine how to act against ErdoIan.

In a way, trying to find out what Mr. Gul is going to do shows how hapless the opposition is. It is the question that shows that the opposition has no real alternative against Mr. ErdoIan, so they hope for “something” from Mr. Gul, who shares a similar worliew with ErdoIan.

For my part, I don’t expect anything from Mr. Gul or Mr. ErdoIan for the future of democracy. I see both Mr. Gul and Mr. ErdoIan are “conditional democrats.” When the political conditions are right to be a democrat, they become “democrats” when the political conditions do not force them to be democrats, they have not hesitation to destroy democratic institutions and systems.

I could not ignore the fact that it was Mr. Gul who allowed the restriction of people’s access to the Internet. He was Mr. Gul who signed the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) law, which allowed ErdoIan to control the judicial system from A to Z. It was Mr. Gul who said nothing when ErdoIan was delivering hate speeches against a group of Turkish people. It was Mr. Gul who said nothing to protect the democratic rights that have vanished in the past three years.

Just because Mr. Gul has soft approaches to the issues, it does not make him a defender of democracy and democratic rights. He has a similar vision to that of ErdoIan. He acted as if he is a notary to Mr. ErdoIan’s government.

In addition, I once believed that these people, Mr. ErdoIan, Gul, Bulent Arinç and other Justice and Development Party (AKP) leaders, would really lead to democratize the country. However, I was wrong to give too much credit to these people to expect that they would improve democratic standards in Turkey. Not anymore. I trust neither Mr. ErdoIan nor Mr. Gul when it comes to improving democratic standards in the country.

One would be naive to think that we would see Mr. Gul fight against Mr. ErdoIan to defend democracy.

Instead of focusing on whether Mr. Gul will stand against Mr. ErdoIan’s authoritarian tendencies to erode democratic gains in Turkey, we democrats should focus on how to improve democratic standards against the will of ErdoIan and the passivity of Mr. Gul.

Instead of giving too much credit to a man who did not stand against ErdoIan when he was limiting freedom of speech, free access to information, having full control of the judicial system, and expect that Mr. Gul would be better off if he stood against ErdoIan, we should focus on the political and economic factors that forced both Gul and ErdoIan to reform democratic systems in the early periods of their ruling, but changed in the past few years.

We should focus on when and under what conditions Mr. Gul and ErdoIan can be democrats and what made them be autocrats. Whether there are political conditions, political factors, which would force Turkish leaders, both Mr. Gul and ErdoIan — the “conditional democrats” — to improve democratic rights, is more important than expecting Mr. Gul to be a defender of democracy…

As we see the strategic developments around Turkey, such as the crisis in Syria and the crisis in Ukraine, I don’t think the West will put enough pressure on ErdoIan’s government to step back from eroding democratic rights.

Instead of expecting anything from “conditional democrats,” what we need to do is to defend our own democratic rights against a powerful government through democratic mechanisms. We should educate people about the benefits of democracy. Against the government’s pressure, we should establish civic institutions to strengthen democratic rights