Coming to a public post might sometimes be through appointment, but people mostly take up senior public positions through elections.
Democracy, as it is often claimed, is not solely something related to coming to power through public vote. Perhaps, going from public posts through the public vote must be a better explanation of democratic governance.
In a miraculous way, one might hold a public post for decades. Through various good or bad but valid tools of democratic governance, he could cling on power while parties in power and his political allies might go through transformation. The mayor of Ankara, for example, was elected to office two decades ago. He was a member of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) when he first entered politics. He, for some time, was a political appointee heading a public office taking care of orphans. He was alleged to have been involved in corruption and it was even claimed that he was expelled from the MHP. He was a member of the Motherland Party (ANAP) of the late Turgut Özal, as well as the Welfare Party (RP) of yet another late leader, Necmettin Erbakan. He then finally signed up with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Despite all the political storms of the past almost 25 years, he sailed well without any major trouble. He failed to raise his son as a successor to himself but still he was a man for all seasons.
It has currently been claimed that Melih Gökçek was asked to resign, like the mayor of Istanbul and the mayors of many other smaller cities, including the Marmara province of Bursa. The Istanbul mayor stepped down, complaining he “could not accept not being treated like a man” - whatever that means - while speculation continues whether Gökçek will step down as well. No one, except Gökçek, denied the claims, while President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “Not correct for the day, but that does not mean it will not happen.”
Obviously, a hunt might have started for some members of the political leg of the Gülen organization, which is believed to have been behind last year’s coup attempt, as all the names on a list of mayors who are wanted to resign have at least one alleged member of the Gülen network among their immediate relatives if not themselves.
Neither Istanbul’s former mayor’s son-in-law nor the brothers, sisters or the wives of a web of senior AKP politicians who are alleged to have links with the group could escape a hunt if such a hunt was to be initiated.
This weekend, a former deputy prime minister and a former education minister will be among the guests of an AKP event chaired by Erdoğan in the Central Anatolian province of Afyon. These two former senior politicians, as well as some other “very top” executives, have been under the spotlight for some time as well.
“Why am I here… If I was collecting money for the gang, I was doing it under her orders,” are the screams of the imprisoned wife of an imprisoned businessman that have been roaming around Ankara for some time. Who was that “wife” in charge of money collected for the gang? There are speculations but everyone must be innocent until sentenced by a court. It is a fundamental principle which perhaps can no longer be valid in Turkey under current circumstances.
If someone like Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş might be “kicked out” of the political scene, the message must be clear to everyone from top to down, the entire cadre of the AKP. Who was Topbaş? He was someone who has been with Erdoğan all along his political life.
Perhaps Gökçek is not yet on the list. Perhaps, he might have some dossiers that he can use in negotiations with Erdoğan to stay or at least get his son to an important public post, perhaps the Çankaya mayoral position in the next election, if he could no longer stay.
Would I take pity on Gökçek? Definitely not. Such greedy politicians with such cheeky tactics of survival have been an impediment to the progress of democratic governance in this country. But even Gökçek must go with an election. In the wildest of my dreams, I would not want to see such a nightmare of defending Gökçek. But democracy cannot be a selective game. He has to go with an election…
On the other hand, if Topbaş and others who were forced, or will be forced to resign because they had a minute of connection of any sort with a criminal gang rather than forcing them to step down, the AKP government must bring them to courts.