Turkey’s precious gains
Whatever might be the eventual outcome of the June 24 and probably the July 8 vote, Turkey has gone through already some precious experiences. These experiences might help the country in devising its future and achieve some real democratic progress.
It is so unfortunate that public broadcaster as well as the news agency have become channels disseminating propaganda for one candidate and one political alliance.
In the two-week period in between May 14 and 30, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) – funded with a special levy on telephone communication in this country – allocated 67 hours and 58 minutes to news on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his People’s Alliance.
In the same period TRT gave only 6 hours and 43 minutes coverage to the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and its presidential candidate Muharrem İnce.
Another presidential candidate Meral Akşener and her Good Party (İYİ) was given a generous 12 minutes and 43 seconds while as might be expected Selahattin Demirtaş, the imprisoned presidential candidate of the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) and the HDP itself was allocated no time at all on TRT bulletins.
Islamist radical Hüdapar was given 23 minutes while presidential candidate Temel Karamollaoğlu and his Felicity Party (SP) was on the TRT bulletins for just 8 minutes40 seconds. Vatan Party and its presidential candidate Doğu Perincek was on the TRT screens in that two-week period for just two minutes.
Not only there has been all through this campaign period a gross injustice to the extent of negating the probability of having a just and fair election, a high court member tweeting a political message against one leading candidate demonstrated as well the absence of an independent judiciary, a fundamental requirement of democratic governance.
As the Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya has said the polls turned out to be a matter of “life and death” for the ruling political group as well as for Erdoğan. Opposition parties and other presidential candidates have been already talking about their intention to probe the undertakings of the past 16 years of Justice and Development Party (AKP), particularly the major tenders. If the alternative of reelection has become some time in prison or worse, perhaps a demand for fair and just elections, a gentlemen’s contest among the candidates might be an exaggerated fantasy.
Use of TRT, AA and the entire network of public means including public transportation, and funding to the extent of even paying for the extravagant iftar dinners from the presidential slush funds showed the nation the need to devise a better way of avoiding exploitation of public means by greedy politicians. Can this be possible? At least there is an awareness which might be transformed into practice when and if this country moves on to a better democratic governance.
Without doubt President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been enjoying the status of being the most popular politician of Turkey. For a long period he was believed to be politically unbeatable. Headed by himself no one believed there could be an alternative to Erdoğan. Now, a former teacher and a woman politician have showed the nation that there might be indeed very strong contenders who could shake the throne of Erdoğan or even pull him down.
The vulnerability of Erdoğan like all other mortals will be one of the biggest gains of the nation from this period. Erdoğan is not a leader any longer with no alternative. Or, if we are to put it in other words, the nation is not condemned to have Erdoğan as its president for ever.
Seeing a decline in his AKP’s popularity and the need to have 50 plus percent of the vote to become executive president, political alliances were introduced by Erdoğan as a probable way to cling on power. The system helped the opposition as well when an Islamist party, a nationalist party and a social democratic party managed to come together for the sake of getting rid of a “bigger enemy” than each posed for the others. Thus anti-Erdoğan sentiments produced a strong opposition alliance with a potential of capturing parliamentary majority. The ability of cohabitation might be the biggest gain Turks will harvest from this difficult times.