Erdoğan’s Turkey no longer has rule of law

Erdoğan’s Turkey no longer has rule of law

With less than a month to go until the polls, the focus of Turkey’s election campaign has shifted from the competition between rival political parties to a conflict between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and three opposition parties. In the last week alone, President Erdoğan held around 10 public rallies and delivered lengthy statements at public events almost every day, holding forth on his long-time ambition to adopt a presidential system.  

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) made consecutive appeals to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) but failed to get a meaningful response. 

Erdoğan defended holding public rallies and conveying his messages to the public on the grounds that “it is his responsibility to disseminate his opinions about the future of Turkey.” However, his statements are not limited to his opinions about the future of Turkey. Every one of his addresses contains harsh words, criticisms and accusations against the opposition parties, especially the CHP and the HDP. He is gentler when it comes to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), maybe because he does not want to irk his own nationalist voters. 

Erdoğan is openly siding with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) when he demands 400 lawmakers from the people, an amount of seats that would easily change the constitution in the way he desires. His heavily polarizing and discriminating rhetoric is a repetition of what he did during the 2011 election campaign, which was full of religious and nationalist motifs. According to Tarhan Erdem, a political analyst and long-time election observer, Erdoğan has also become the first president ever to campaign openly in favor of a political party by using the holy book of Islam, the Quran.

Occupying the news channels and other television channels for hours every day along with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Erdoğan stands as an obstacle before a fair and competitive election process. Another impact of his intervention in the election process is the decline in the public’s opinion on the security of the election, as revealed by recent public surveys. 

There is no need to underline the fact Erdoğan’s acts are in open violation of the Turkish Constitution and the Election Law. However, there is seemingly no judicial body that will say anything, even though the constitutional principle of the rule of law is in grave danger in the hands of President Erdoğan. 

Article 2 of the constitution cites the rule of law among the fundamental characteristics of the state. “The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state governed by rule of law,” it reads.
This very principle of the rule of law is cited in numerous articles of the constitution and even in the presidential oath, which reads: “In my capacity as president of the Republic, I swear upon my honor and integrity before the great Turkish nation and before history to safeguard the existence and independence of the state, the indivisible integrity of the country and the nation, and the absolute sovereignty of the nation, to abide by the constitution, the rule of law, democracy.” 

Making a habit of violating the constitution, the laws and even the oath that he took, Erdoğan is helping Turkey to drift toward a league of countries that lacks the fundamental principle of a contemporary and democratic country: The rule of law.