National will: No longer a fetish

National will: No longer a fetish

There is no doubt that the concept of “national will,” i.e., an unconditional respect for the ballot box, has been the most sacred word(s) in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s spectacular political journey. If one typed the words “Erdoğan national will,” Google would produce an impressive 10.1 million results. 

During his unconstitutional election campaign in favor of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the run up to the June 7 parliamentary election, President Erdoğan asked for “400 deputies,” a not-so-shy way of requesting a constitutional majority for the AKP. The 400 deputies would then cheerfully vote to amend the constitution to introduce the executive presidential system he was craving. Instead, the “national will” gave him (or the AKP) 258 seats. 

In a speech on June 6, just a day before the parliamentary election, Mr. Erdoğan said: “I believe that my nation will say ‘yes’ to a new Turkey, to a new constitution and to the presidential system… Everyone should respect the national will.” Everyone does. Not Mr. Erdoğan.

On June 7, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) won over six million votes and 80 seats in parliament. More than two months after the election, Mr. Erdoğan claimed that those votes meant an attempt to hamper Turkey’s growth and aspirations for the centennial of the republic in 2023 (He said: “The remark saying ‘We will not make you president,’ was to prevent the 2023 targets [of Turkey],” reflecting a not-so-healthy mindset which thinks Turkey cannot reach its 2023 targets without him being the executive president).

Apparently June 7 was the expiry date of Mr. Erdoğan’s political fetish for “national will.” That was the day when his nation did NOT “say ‘yes’ to a new Turkey, to a new constitution and to the presidential system.” 

Now Mr. Erdoğan says the HDP is controlled by a terrorist organization, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). How so easily Mr. Erdoğan has transformed from unconditionally advocating the national will to a rhetoric that simply says there are over six million people in Turkey who only two months ago made their democratic choice at the ballot box for a party that is controlled by a terrorist organization.

Fortunately Mr. Erdoğan is young and healthy enough to observe the elections results in 2023 [and probably others that will come later] which he will probably not like. It would be prudent of the president if he prepares himself for, on the centennial of the republic, well over 10 million votes cast for a party controlled by a terrorist organization. 

Mr. Erdoğan adores the national will at his convenience. He does not like, nor does he respect, the national will appearing in the shape of votes cast for the political parties that he thinks stand in the way of his endless political ambitions. Just like he was a part-time, selective democrat during his years as prime minister, he has a part-time, selective devotion to his sacrosanct making “national will.” 

The president has every liberty to think that there are over six million terrorist Turks and Kurds who voted for the HDP, in addition to millions of other atheist, secular, leftist, liberal and Alevi “terrorists.” He will have to learn to live in a country that houses tens of millions of terrorists who do NOT say “yes” to his “new Turkey.” Too bad, he cannot imprison, kill or expel tens of millions. In fact, he will most likely have to learn to cohabit with even a bigger number of “terrorists” if he checked Turkish and Kurdish fertility rates. In about three decades Mr. Erdoğan may have to regret every euphemism he used in the past for “national will.” 

But not all things look too gloomy. He so much wanted a “new Turkey.” He will definitely get one later if not sooner. There will be the national will emerging from the ballot boxes each time the country goes to the polls. And there are millions of Turkish citizens carefully listening to his oft-repeated advice that each family should have at least three children – well, at least the Kurdish Turkish citizens, if not the Turkish Turkish ones.