From political parties to street parties

From political parties to street parties

Opinion polls ahead of Turkey’s upcoming referendum seem to show that calling naysayers “terrorists” or “tools of foreign powers” have annoyed both sides, even causing an increase in “No” votes.

But why does it take a poll to understand this? We have been writing for years that politicians should not call their rivals names, targeting them and thus dividing the nation.

Aren’t we over this “polarization” business? Haven’t the inconveniences of employing a troll army hired simply to swear at people occurred? 

Citizens of the Republic of Turkey should be equal before the state, no matter what their political views are. Haven’t we already learned this? Hasn’t the damage of dividing the country into “us vs. them” been felt? 

Such tactics are really not worth it just to secure political gains and increase votes. In my life I have seen many leaders come and go, and I will live to see many more. I have seen many political parties. Parties opened, parties merged, parties followed by the public, divided parties, eroding parties, disappearing parties. I will see many more parties come and go.

But we should not take political parties too seriously. What counts most is whether we are able to party hand in hand together. That should be our long-term goal. 

A bit of hope for the future

We recently came across a story that initiated a slight bit of hope for the future: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the opposition “No” tent in Istanbul’s Sarıyer district. 

They offered him water and they chatted together for a while. If he keeps making such gestures, then “Yes” might come out of the referendum. 

I made a similar argument during the Gezi Park protests in 2013. Back then, if Erdoğan had visited the park maybe on the third day of protests, if he had spoken with the young people there, if he had said, “Let’s make this park greener, let’s abandon the construction project,” then the protests would have ended as a three-day environmentalist protest. 

Perhaps now the president will maintains such a communication style, adopting The attitude that allowed him to visit the “No” tent, developing a connection not only with his own voters but with all citizens, having a dialogue with the entire media, having an equal distance from all nongovernmental organizations, understanding the issues of all social segments including the opposition, leftists, ultranationalists, etc…

It is frequently mentioned these days that the West is “jealous of us,” that we will “spoil the game of foreign powers,” and that “we will become a regional power, a world giant.” Well, if the president adopts such an approach, the probability of that actually becoming true will climb.  

Only then will we be able to stop pushing each other around and start solving our genuine problems, hand in hand. Only then will Germany and the like truly feel some kind of jealousy for us.