The Dec 17 scandal is far from over

The Dec 17 scandal is far from over

During an address to the German Foreign Policy Institute in Berlin in early February, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that if Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the March 30 local election it would prove that it is an honest party.

The AKP did win the election. Are we to assume then that it is honest and would not engage in corruption? Have these elections really proved that the allegations by prosecutors - who have since been dismissed - in what is known as the Dec. 17 corruption scandal, were fabrications by a villainous “parallel structure” lodged within the judiciary?

I have been asking those I know who openly and defiantly voted for the AKP why they did so, despite the serious allegations of corruption. Their answers reveal two categories of supporters.

Sticking fully to the Erdoğan line, the first argues that Dec. 17 is not a corruption scandal but rather a coup attempt. They also believe that members of an overtly Muslim party would never engage in corruption because of their fear of Allah. There is nothing to be said against these people, because it is a matter of faith for them.

But the answers from the second category of AKP voters have nothing to do with faith. “So, let them steal. Didn’t everyone else before them do so? More power to them as long as they serve the people.” Personal experience shows me that those who think this way are not few and far between.

The national disposition to be skeptical about the honesty of politicians is nothing new for Turkey of course. It is therefore doubtful that the results the local elections have proved that the AKP is honest in the way Erdoğan wants only four months before the presidential elections.

In the meantime, we learn from the government-friendly media that the government is working on what is being billed as a “comprehensive anticorruption action plan” which is said to also include measures to protect public officials who report corruption and bribery.

According to an April 13 report in the English language Daily Sabah: “Whistleblowers will be rewarded and they may be allowed a leave of absence up to three months and will be free to transfer to another institution if necessary.”

The paper adds that, “Officials behind the anti-corruption measures are aiming to prove that the government is determined to address corruption claims and that they are not left unanswered in the eyes of public opinion.” If true, all of this begs some serious questions.

To start with, will whistleblowers really be rewarded and protected in the way suggested? Given what has transpired so far, is it is it not much more likely that they will be accused of being members of the so called “Parallel Structure” and punished if their whistleblowing implicates the government in any way?

Then there is the question of what is to happen to those allegations that have already been filed against members of the government by prosecutors? Are we to forget these allegations now that the AKP has won the local elections?

One can’t help but wonder how “the comprehensive anticorruption action plan” the government is said to be working on will have any credibility if it does not focus on these allegations. One also can’t help wonder how the Dec. 17 scandal is to be covered up if the new anticorruption action plan is to be as “comprehensive” as is being claimed.

Clearly, the results of the local elections have not cleaned the slate for Erdoğan the way he would like, especially since there are those who voted for him who believe that the corruption allegations against his government may be true, even if they, in their cynicism, don’t care.

Put simply, the “Dec. 17 scandal” – or “coup attempt” as some prefer to call it – is far from over for Erdoğan, and appears set to continue hounding and haunting him until he lets the law handle it the way it should have been allowed to in the first place.