Conceding defeat is a democratic virtue

Conceding defeat is a democratic virtue

Those who have lectured generations of Turks on democracy were all wrong. The assumption that democracy is the name of the administrative system according to which governments come through elections is at least deficient. It must be stressed that elections can be held even in some forms of oppressive and tyrannical regimes, as even dictators might use democratic elections as a tool to come to power, but what makes an administrative system a democracy is the act of governments conceding electoral defeat and, in full respect to the will of the people, leaving the question of the government to the choice of the nation in peace.

What happened in Turkey on June 7 and the entire ordeal we have been experiencing are products of a deficient and indeed crooked democratic understanding. The so-called self-democrats who considered democracy as a train schedule to be used to carry them merely to the destination they have in mind naturally never ever considered the possibility of defeat. What was in store for Turkey should the electors defy the necessary parliamentary majority to the men of the tall, bald and bold man aspiring to become the absolute power holder in the country was indeed proclaimed just days before the June 5 Diyarbakır blast at a rally of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) rally.

The execution-style killings of police and military officers, the Suruç carnage, the resurgence of 1990s-type separatist terrorist attacks sending several body bags a day to parts around the country, the fuelling of nationalist and ethnic polarization and, last but not least, the Ankara massacre, were obvious proofs of the deficiency in governance and the inability of the security and intelligence networks of the country to fulfill the job they were paid for: Provide the nation a secure country.

The escalation of terrorism could not, of course, be part of a heinous plan by any person or party to prove how important their strong and single-handed presence in government was. Such a perception – though unfortunately created – cannot be true as no one in this country can think of such detestable, deplorable indeed heinous plans with such huge costs just to remain in power. Those making such allegations must concede that individuals come and go, but institutions remain. Even if some personalities might be incompatible with the high offices they occupy, just for the sake of the democratic governance of this country tomorrow, institutions must be protected. 

Still, what Turkey has been compelled to undergo since the June 7 electoral defeat of the ruling party and indeed the super-president aspirations of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the refusal to designate as prime minister any opposition personality and all the Byzantine tricks staged to retain state power at all costs underline the importance of the upcoming Nov. 1 repeat polls. It is obvious – at least for this writer – that if the ruling party cannot win or if it does not clearly lose the vote, Turkey will be compelled to live through a similar, sad period of several more months and go to a second repeat vote in March or April. 

Claims that such a thing cannot happen, that if it fails to come to power alone for a second time, there might be splits in the ruling party and such are just irrelevant. The former minister in charge of crying might confess how badly they were treated in the party or lament how the country was geared toward dictatorial governance – that he was furiously opposing as long as he was in office – but the reality is sharply different.

There is no one around for that job, including the former president who could dare to publicly take a position against the absolute ruler who aspires to become a super president. If the change can only come from within the ruling party, than forget about change; Turkey is doomed to go down a dictatorial trail.

The change, however, must come from the opposition parties. The pro-Kurdish party should stop speaking with micro-nationalist slogans and try to be a “party of Turkey,” while the Turkish nationalist party should understand that for the sake of the country and the nation, it must be the duty of a nationalist to cooperate with everyone, including the micro-nationalist one.

It is more or less clear now that the result of the weekend’s poll will not be much different than the June 7 outcome. The ruling party will not have a sufficient majority to come to power but will still be the first party with considerable strength. The micro-Kurdish nationalist and macro-Turkish nationalist parties will have more or less the same presence in the new parliament. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) might have few seats more, but still unless the opposition manages to form a three-way coalition, the country will not get to see a way out of this nightmare.