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ERTUĞRUL ÖZKÖK > Political similarities and differences between Turkey and Germany

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I was chatting with a German friend the other day. We were discussing the election results in Turkey.
Of course, the topic was the success of the Justice and Development (AK Party) and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

My German friend commented, “The fact that the social democratic party is not successful and lacks a charismatic leader is key.”

At that moment it dawned on me and I asked, “Does the German social democratic movement have a charismatic leader now?” I could not name the leader easily.

My German friend said, “You’re right. The leader of the German Social Democrat Party is not as charismatic as Merkel.”

Right after that moment, we started a striking conversation. We put down some figures in columns and we saw a very surprising picture. As a matter of fact, this picture is before all of us, but when it is written side by side it looks like a surprising picture.

Now, I will show you the picture:

The conversation started with my question, “What percentage of the votes did the first party get in the last elections in Germany?” My German friend said, “41-plus percent.”

Then he asked me, “What percentage of the votes did Erdoğan’s party get in the last elections?”
I answered, “43 percent.”

It was my turn to ask, “The Social Democrat Party, which came second in the last elections in Germany, what percentage of the votes did it receive?”

My friend’s answer was, “25 percent.” Then he asked me, “Well, what percentage of the votes did Turkey’s social democratic party receive? The party whose leader is regarded as uncharismatic, and which is said to be very unsuccessful?”

I answered, “25-plus percent.”

It was again my turn to ask, so I asked him the percentage of the vote that Germany’s third party got. It was 13 percent.

Well, in Turkey, the third party got 16-plus percent. 

Then came the fourth parties. We also wrote them down. Then we stepped back and looked at the list.
Now, if you allow me, I will make a table to see things better.

The distribution of votes of first, second, third and fourth parties in Turkey and in Germany are as follows:

PARTIES           GERMANY        TURKEY

First party        41 percent       43 percent

Second party   25 percent       26 percent

Third party       13 percent       16 percent

Fourth party     8 percent         6 percent

The election results in both countries are amazingly similar, aren’t they?

Yes, they are. Well, then, let’s proceed to the main issue:

Just out of curiosity, I asked my German friend whether Merkel, who got 41 percent of the votes, was given comments such as, “She crushed them; she swept them into the sea?”

The answer was, “I could not understand the question.” It was not possible for him to understand, because Merkel with her 41 percent was not able to form the government alone.

My second question was whether the German Social Democrat Party was criticized for having been crushed, swept into the sea, and that its leader was not charismatic. Again, he could not understand.
Of course he would not understand, because the German Social Democrat Party became the second partner of the government with its 25 percent of votes.

This question is for our own selves: “While in a foreign country 41 percent is not enough to form the government, how come here with 43 percent of the votes a regime at the brink of a dictatorship can be formed?”

Is it a political culture issue?

We need to take a good look at this table and find a strong answer… The truth that separates “totalitarianism” and “citizen democracy” lies here.

If you reread German President Gauck’s recent words at the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), after looking at this table, then you will better understand them.

May/02/2014

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