This is exactly how a ‘coup’ is staged
Is it acceptable in a democracy that trustees can be appointed by the central government to replace elected mayors if the latter has committed a crime? Elections are the most indispensable rule of democracies and it is essential that whoever comes to power in an election also leaves power in an election.
If an elected person commits a crime, would they simply continue to serve until the end of their terms? No, of course such a situation would be out of the question. Like anyone who has committed a crime, elected officials would also be tried (unless they have parliamentary immunity). If they are found guilty, they would be punished.
But the crucial issue is about who is to be appointed in the place of the elected public official removed due to criminal activities. The correct and normal procedure would be to elect another person in place of the outgoing official. Since the voters cannot do it between two elections, then an organ, the legitimacy of which is based on elections, should do it.
If a mayor loses their position, then the city council should elect one of its already elected members as mayor, thus ending all debates over legitimacy. In fact, our Municipal Law anticipates this.
For this reason, dismissing an elected mayor and replacing them by the governor or ministry with a civil servant is nothing less than a coup d’état staged against the free will of the people.
Of course this would never happen, but let’s say the prime minister of a country is caught red-handed receiving bribes. Parliament lifts their immunity and the prime minister is tried and convicted. Would a trustee be appointed to their place? No, the elected parliament would hold a vote of confidence for a new prime minister and if they pass it then they would head the government. If this does not happen and an unelected authority appoints a new prime minister, we would call this a “coup d’état.”
If a court decides that an elected official has committed a crime, then that person can be dismissed. But in the current examples - in municipalities mainly in Turkey’s southeast - there has been no such court decision. This is the utmost problem of the statutory decrees that enable the government to unilaterally appoint of trustees to municipalities.
The second biggest issue is that instead of an elected official, a public employee is appointed. This neglects the fact that an elected official should only be replaced by another elected official.
If the July 15 coup attempt had succeeded, we would have gone through exactly what we are going through today. The elected officials would have been dismissed and replaced by civil servants. It is worth pointing this out.
The July 15 oath
The Ministry of Education has distributed a booklet to students explaining the July 15 coup attempt. I read in the papers that this booklet depicts the heroism of our citizens who died or were injured during the coup attempt.
The text of an “oath” is also included in this booklet. This “oath” includes the following section: “Let us never forget you. If we are not able to protect what we have been entrusted with, let our tongue be silenced forever. If centuries pass, I will never forget this holy saga that occurred thanks to your martyrdom.”
I am not able to understand why our more tradition oaths used for such occasions were not used for this latest booklet.
Most probably the children will not be able to understand this oath anyway. After all, such concepts are not the kind of thing that those aged six or 10 can really understand. It is probably fair to say that such oaths will harm the psychological development of children.
Who knows, maybe the authorities opted for a change because oaths based on concepts such as “honesty” and “honor” do not mean much to them.
Instead of making the children take an oath, it would have been much better and more meaningful to have the children learn the value of the culture of democracy.
In another measure, the Education Ministry will also place a July 15 “epigraph” at the entrance of all schools, reading that the July 15 coup attempt was “the worst treason history has ever seen in our region.”
Are you not exaggerating a bit?
Our geography has seen many examples of treason. Indeed, the worst treason of all belonged to the last sultan of the Ottomans, who you cannot stop praising.
There is no doubt that July 15 was a nefarious and felonious insurrection. But such exaggeration only leads to laughter among the people it aims to affect.