Can Erdoğan be the president of all Turks?

Can Erdoğan be the president of all Turks?

Listening to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s long and almost day-based statements, one can think over that this country is still being ruled by an old-fashioned undemocratic regime and he is making a democratic struggle to become the government. What deny this impression were the pictures of the police beating the people, using water cannons and pepper gas against thousands of people, from 7-year-olds to 70-year-olds, who were gathered to celebrate the 89th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey.

Calling the march illegal, provocative and aimed at dividing the country, Erdoğan seems to forget that it was he who encouraged people to celebrate national holidays without state protocol. Many of his aides compared the way Turkey celebrated national holidays in the past with the way Soviets did and promoted people-to-people celebrations instead. One other thing they overlook is the fact that each and every Turkish citizen and civil society have the right to assembly without seeking consent from the governor.

As an experienced politician with an ambition to become the president of the country in 2014, Erdoğan should be very careful not to lose his temper and to keep his anger under control. Without mentioning the disproportionate force used by the security forces and expressing a word of soreness about what has happened on Oct. 29, Erdoğan criticizes the governor and the police chief for showing weakness against the crowd and for allowing them to remove the police barriers.

He harshly slammed the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and its leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who showed up at the rally and also criticized President Abdullah Gül, who instructed the Ankara governor to tolerate the crowds.

In another show of the nature of a “state politician,” Erdoğan severely criticized hundreds of prisoners who have been undertaking a hunger strike since September and vowed that “the state will not be blackmailed, will not accept being threatened.” He also went further saying, “Dying in the prisons will not blackmail the state.”

In his 10th year of rule, Erdoğan has now successfully turned into the kind of politician he and his party members criticized. Placing the state at the core of everything, ignoring the rights of each and every individual are some of characteristics of this kind of politician. Turkish political history witnessed so many examples of this sort that paved the way for Erdoğan and his AKP to become the government in 2002 and to win three consecutive elections. But his current picture is no different from Soviet-era leaders who ruled their countries with an iron fist.

Erdoğan may still become the president in 2014 if elected in a popular vote. But it seems hard for him to become the president of everybody living in Turkey as his current approach will only help him become the “president of the state.”