The myth about splitting the vote
There is constantly the line that “you are splitting the vote.”
The electorate has been listening for the past five years to rhetoric based on “Let’s not have your votes go into the garbage; this is the last exit before the bridge.”
Also under the influence of this rhetoric, a considerable number of people have voted for parties that they do not want or do not think represent them.
A big majority vote for certain political parties, but if we were to say, “List the names of the Istanbul parliamentarians,” how many of the electorate could really list them by name?
Yet we should not only elect parties but people who will really represent us in the parliament. We have to be in a position to say to our representative, “Our vote is for you, in return, you should hear me, see me, represent me and be accountable to me.”
This is especially important when we know that an independent candidate is much more suitable for the spirit of democracy in this political climate.
Democracy should not be just about going to the ballot box once every four years and raising and lowering your hand in parliament under the direction of a leader.
We need an understanding of citizenship and representation that goes much beyond that for a genuine civilian politics.
In contrast to other parliamentarians, there is no need for an independent representative that entered parliament to think about “what the leader would say” or take into consideration intra-party balances and power games.
The sole obstruction in front of independent candidates is not just the conviction that it “splits the votes,” but also the perception that they cannot bring about change. But change can come with independent parliamentarians who are familiar with the issues.
They are best-suited to leading the work in parliament on the issues they are interested in. When independent, it is easier to talk to all parties and it is also easier to ensure others do not shut their ears from the outset, since the MP is not speaking on behalf of a party.
Batuhan Aydagül, an independent candidate from Istanbul’s second region, comes from a family that has been involved with education for four generations. He has been working for years in a nongovernmental organization that focuses on education.
He realized that as long as politics continues in this direction and politicians see education as a tool for indoctrination, his efforts in civil society would remain limited. Therefore, he rolled up his sleeves to enter the legislative body and deal directly with education issues.
Rich or poor, and independent of his or her ethnic identity, everybody has a problem with education in Turkey.
“The most debated issue in 2014 was the rise in the number of religious [imam hatip] high schools. Then why has nobody started debates about education. I am going to the parliament to ask the right questions,” says Aydagül.
He needs between 85,000-100,000 votes to be elected. When you consider that 14 percent of the 2.5 million voters in his electoral region are undecided and that the same amount of voters keep changing their choices between the current parties, it is not impossible for Aydagül, who works with hundreds of volunteers, to get 85,000 votes.
It would have been easier if he were a candidate from a party. “I did not wait in front of the door of a leader to be nominated. Instead, I chose to go to the people and ask for their votes,” he said.