He has not yet minted coins in his name
He was only short of girding himself with a sword yesterday in the ceremony that resembled the Ottoman sultans’ enthronement ceremonies. Etiquette was incredibly lavish at Ottoman enthronement ceremonies, which started with Mehmet the Conqueror and lasted until the last sultan Vahdettin.
Yesterday, it was like that; Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became a presidential candidate. Such a ceremony for a nomination Turkey has not seen since 1923.
In the Ottoman times, the enthronement of the new sultan was announced with royal decrees (ferman) sent to every corner of the country. Erdoğan’s candidacy yesterday was broadcast live on 17 television channels, in place of the Ottoman ferman.
The Ottoman sultans step outside the iron gate of the Hasoda (The Privy Chamber at Topkapı Palace, after the palace was built) in enthronement ceremonies and proceeded to the throne room, followed by performing “namaz” prayers. Erdoğan yesterday did not do the namaz (daily prayer), but he started his candidacy speech with a prayer and finished it with a prayer.
When Ottoman sultans ascend to the throne, they grant an enthronement tip. Erdoğan, before he became a candidate, even though its scope was narrowed the other day, introduced a tax amnesty. He hired thousands of additional staff for the state and for his party.
Prisons are vacated; those who have been unjustly sentenced in the political cases that he had once declared he was the prosecutor of are being released. In connection with the resolution process, new promises are being made to the Kurds.
One man regime
He reiterated in his speech yesterday, “I have never discriminated before. If I am elected, I will be everybody’s president.” However, even in his candidacy ceremony, he excluded the TV stations and newspapers that oppose him; he did not invite them.
In the messages he conveyed, he said he will be a “different president.” Correct, because in a part of his speech he covered a wide range of domestic and foreign politics, from the Kurdish issue, to the economy, as if he was reading a government program. His candidacy speech is like a government program. If he is elected, this is like the messenger of a one-man regime of the presidency and prime ministry together.
While he told members of his party that they will “be together” until the elections, he is simultaneously saying he will not resign from the Prime Ministry. An unequal race is starting.
The inequality is wide-ranged:
1- Such special programming has not been scheduled on TV for Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu and Selahattin Demirtaş.
2- Commentators and programs that follow the ceremony are predominantly one sided. You have to look very hard to find criticism.
3- Kemal Kılıçdaoğlu’s parliamentary group speech was cut halfway through yesterday; the TVs instead covered the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidacy application to parliamentary speaker Cemil Çiçek.
A mobilization has started for Erdoğan. Even the candidacy is sultan-style. He has not yet minted coins in his name. But these are elections and elections should never be taken for granted.