Advancing autocracy, not democracy

Advancing autocracy, not democracy

It is difficult to understand to what limits Turkey’s government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) will carry its “advanced democracy” or effort to gather legislative, executive and judiciary powers in its leader and government. The latest design to empower the justice minister to become the sole decision maker at the Judges and Prosecutors High Board (HSYK) underscores the dreadful reality the “advanced democracy” of AKP is definitely deficient of, put aside European or any sort of universal norm of “plain,” democratic governance.

As President Abdullah Gül underlined in his speech the other day at the War Academies, in today’s world the legitimacy of a government emanates from the existence of democratic governance.

Democratic governance, on the other hand, requires free and fair elections but cannot be limited to that. It requires supremacy of law and equality of all in front of law. Furthermore, in the absence of the separation of legislative, judicial and executive powers democratic governance becomes a fairy tale.

National will is the backbone of democratic governance. The legislative, executive and the judiciary wings execute power emanating from national will and all their actions and undertakings are thus “on behalf of the nation.” And of course, in this system of governance there cannot be any sort of Orwellian “more equal animals,” simply as is enshrined in the constitutions, all citizens must be equal, whether they live in the prime minister’s residence, at a remote Uludere (Roboski) village in southeastern Anatolia or at an Istanbul neighborhood. The foremost duty of any democratic government is to provide security of the life and property of each and every citizen without any discrimination. Naturally, a government is not expected in any way to kill or rob its citizens. The power entrusted in a government cannot be exercised to mercilessly order the use of brute force at Gezi park (which, since June, incidents last year engulfed the entirety of Turkey) protestors, people of Uludere trying to make a living through state-tolerated smuggling or to cover up the worst corruption case of recent republican history by some “more equals.”

Worse, is it reasonable for a government to remove or replace from duty some 2,500 policemen, scores of prosecutors, tens of top bureaucrats just because, for a change, not some ordinary people, but some ministers and their family members were implicated in a graft this time? The government has been condemning the graft operation as an “attempted coup” by the supporters of the Islamist Fethullah Gülen brotherhood or the “Hizmet” network. The government and the Gülenists were comrades in arms in the previous vendetta against the military and civilian secularist or Kemalist elements. Through their effective collaboration and thanks to the great services of the Center in Excellence in Forging All Sorts of Evidence, the Silivri concentration complex was turned into an extermination factory.

Now in full confession of the heinous crime committed against the secularists, the government and its supporters started talking of the need to retry the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer thriller cases. On the other hand, with the same tactics used in those thriller cases, the government has been in efforts to portray Hizmet as a gang that, through the graft probe, attempted, but failed to stage a coup.

What’s indeed happening in this country is rather sad. With the claim of advanced democracy, autocracy is advancing; with the reform of the HSYK, the government is becoming a court as well. How sad it is for Turkey, for the achievements in democracy made over the past close to one century.

Sacrificing everything for what? Particularly after the Tanzimat political reforms made in 1839, even no Ottoman sultan ever had such powers…