From the Bosphorus: Straight - A vote that will yield no winners
HDN | 9/7/2010 12:00:00 AM |
We believe that on Monday, Sept. 13, Turkey will still have a Constitution lacking in legitimacy and credibility, whatever Sunday's result.
Today’s Straight, our daily column that seeks to reflect the consensus of the editors at the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, will be our last before Sunday’s referendum on proposed constitutional reform. Our Thursday paper will be a “Bayram edition,” which means we will use our Weekend format, in which the Straight does not appear. The edition you hold in your hands is also the last before we return to the stands after the holiday, and after the vote has been decided: “yes” or “no.”
So this is our last opportunity to share our views before this sad and tawdry election. Given the often supercilious tone taken in this campaign toward those organizations not deigning to declare themselves firmly in one camp or the other, a bit of space to amplify our own views is in order. For we do indeed have strongly held views.
In short, some of us will vote “yes,” our reasoning boiling down to the view that any reform is to be embraced and then we will resume the struggle for more. Those of us in the “no” camp have reasons somewhat more complex. For some of us, it is the deeply felt concern that the sacrosanct concept of the separation of powers will be irreparably damaged in Turkey. For others among us, the motives are more weighted toward a desire to deny the ruling party an endorsement in what has in effect become a plebiscite on its general rule.
In that sense, our mixed views, we believe, are in fact a mirror of the sentiments harbored by most voters. There is great ambiguity over this vote. We know that readers appreciate our sincere efforts to constrain our personal views in our news pages and we hope our diverse coverage in recent weeks has been fair, accurate and equidistant from the actors in this drama. With a margin of error of 4-5 percent on some days, we are confident we have done so.
But while our views on the simple question of “yes” or “no” are mixed, we are in complete accord that this initiative, from its drafting last spring to its debate in recent months, has been almost completely devoid of candor, statesmanship and commitment to democratic principles. The ruling party has cynically packed a ballot with diverse elements that should not be decided in sum; the same party’s message has been disingenuous to the point of blatant manipulation. The opposition parties have callously turned the campaign into a tactical dry run in advance of next year’s general election, and in some cases a street bazaar of bargaining attempts and base deal-making on the most unrelated of issues.
We do not know what the result will be Sunday evening. But we do note that on Monday Turkey will still have a Constitution lacking in legitimacy and credibility. It has been a campaign devoid of true leadership. It has been a campaign that in the end has diminished rather than enhanced Turkish democracy. Come next Monday, there will be no winners.