CHP’s İstanbul candidate on stage with clear strategy

CHP’s İstanbul candidate on stage with clear strategy

Politics is theater. However, it’s not like, “We have watched it and now it’s finished.” It’s a theater play that has serious consequences on our lives.

What seizes masses – besides a strong belief and an absolute honesty – is the style of doing politics and a dramatic character.

Who sings the song is as important as the song itself. For a politician to ascend to leadership, he has to inspire the masses and manipulate them emotionally. For these, he needs to be a successful actor.
This is why scriptwriters are sought from Hollywood during election campaigns in the United States. A play is being staged and the one with the best performance, not the best play, wins.

Recently, I joined Mustafa Sarıgül, who is running for office for the metropolitan mayor of Istanbul position, in his election bus for a small-scale district rally in Çekmeköy. After five hours of observing Mustafa Sarıgül in his office, in the bus, on top of the bus, on the street, I can say that he plays the role “not bad.”

His every word, every action is planned, calculated beforehand. Regardless of whether there are 100 people or one person beside him, he does not quit the role; so, he is never incoherent.

Sarıgül explained that because he is targeting those places where the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) wins the most votes, he has left places like Beşiktaş and Kadıköy till the end. He has visited 39 districts so far and has 19 more districts to go.

He said he will distribute brochures to 15 million homes: “It will be a brochure with a lot of pictures. I will knock on every door and shake every hand.”

He is hyperactive. He does not drift off to look out of the window for even three seconds. He teases a 19-year-old girl taking his pictures in the bus.

He told me about the mixture of linden, green tea, honey and ginger that he sips all the time on the road. He wears a yellow scarf around his neck.

He saluted crowds situated every 200 meters along the highway. He got sentimental when he saw a buddy of 40 years who had come all the way from Bayburt. He kissed a small child. He suddenly started singing a folk song to the cameras inside the bus.

When he saw people holding “The remedy is Sarıgül” placards he asked the driver to slow down. When he saw an enthusiastic crowd outside, he shouted, “We will win, don’t worry.”

While he was throwing yellow scarves to the people outside the bus, he continued speaking to journalists: “The mosque is mine, so is the church and the synagogue. I will provide an enormous democratic reconciliation in Istanbul. This is absolutely a people’s movement, just like the first days of Erdoğan.”

He takes out the sentence, “We will change both Istanbul’s fate and Kadir [Topbaş].” He also crossed through the sentence, “Shake them and they will fall.” “No, no. We will not give negative messages,” he said.

After he finished his town rally in the center of Çekmeköy, while returning he called the names of all shop owners, from kebab houses to greengrocers, wishing them good luck in their businesses.

When things calmed down, he told one of his crew, “Right here, tomorrow, do a survey of 3,000 people. How was our speech perceived, what did they like and what didn’t they like. Find out all of this.”

I am not an expert in this business, but what I saw was this: Instead of underestimating and caricaturizing his opponents, he focused on his own pledges. He is trying to attract those people who are fed up with the politics of tension with fun politics, with songs, folk songs, scarves and kisses.
Politics is a barbaric world. In order not to directly reflect this barbarity to masses, there is a need for softening material. Like music, theater, art and films.

Sarıgül seems to have woken up to this.

Melis Alphan is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece is published on Jan. 13. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.