Do Turkish taxpayers finance elections?
Presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used the Prime Ministry’s official plane ANA when he traveled to Hatay last Sunday, July 20, as part of his presidential campaign. He also used ANA on July 19 when he went to Ordu, and again he used it when he went to Bursa on July 18.
This is an Airbus A 319-115x type plane with a business jet decoration inside.
Erdoğan does not only use ANA during his electoral campaign. He also uses the Prime Ministry’s helicopter OBA for short-distance visits.
However, he did not head to Hatay to attend an official event organized in the city as prime minister. He went there to convince Hatay’s locals to elect him president. He spoke at a rally. In other words, the purpose of his visit was related to his political interests on an individual basis.
Erdoğan is a candidate who is competing in the presidential elections with two other official candidates, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu and Selahattin Demirtaş.
The fact that Erdoğan appears to be leading in the opinion polls should not attribute privileges of any kind to him in the race. The sine quo non principle of a fair election is for it to take place in real competition conditions.
Even children can see the current presidential election campaign in Turkey is not taking place under equal and fair conditions. The fact that Erdoğan uses ANA, for example, gives him tremendous freedom of movement and thus predominance over the other candidates. He is able to use ANA and OBA, which give him the ability to go wherever he wants, whenever he wants.
İhsanoğlu and Demirtaş, on the other hand, have to make their campaign planning within the freedom of movement provided to them by the scheduled flights of airlines companies. Apart from that, they are free to use roads.
They obviously have the option to rent a private plane to attempt to equalize their competition conditions with Erdoğan, but this would bring high costs to their campaign budgets.
From whichever angle you look at it, you cannot say with a clear conscience that these three candidates are competing under fair and equal conditions. When, of course, you add the use of television means and budget criteria, the situation looks even more problematic.
The ownership document of ANA shows that it is not registered under the headquarters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The ownership document shows that it belongs to the state. The price of the plane is paid for by the Treasury. It is managed by Turkish Airlines, which sends the receipts of management costs to the Prime Ministry. Its fuel is registered as a cost of the Prime Ministry - and therefore the Treasury. But where do the Treasury’s resources come from? Who is financing the Treasury? Is it the AKP’s finance department? No, Turkey’s taxpayers finance the Treasury to a large degree via the taxes they pay. In other words, it is financed by the citizen on the street. The Treasury is being financed by the taxes that are cut from your wages every month.
Citizens pay taxes for a public service, a social benefit, which comes back to them and society. There is a sacred contract between the citizen and the state. The use of tax from the citizen outside of this high public good is an open violation of this contract. Therefore, the use of state means, or rather the resources provided by taxpayers, in an electoral campaign is a clear example of this violation. The fact that a politician who claims to construct his political cause against unfairness, injustice and inequality does not refrain from using state means in an unfair manner once he takes power means that this stance remains only on paper and in the archives.
The ambiguities and shortcomings in the law cannot cover up the magnitude of unfairness and injustice here that is overshadowing the presidential elections.