Erdoğan fooling everyone again

Erdoğan fooling everyone again

It appears that Turkey’s de facto absolute ruler Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will spare no effort in consolidating his one-man-rule.

“You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time,” is a rather famous quotation often attributed to Abraham Lincoln. It appears that at least one in every two Turks appears to be ready and willing to be fooled by the prime minister all the time.

Why did the prime minister unleash the death penalty debate at a time when in 66 Turkish prisons a total of 683 prisoners are on a hunger strike, 64 of them since September 12? Was the prime minister trying to tell the inmates that he had joined 1980 coup leader Kenan Evren’s “Should not we hang them and feed them” club? Was it not with the support of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) that in 2002 the death penalty was partially lifted and in 2006 the AKP lifted it all together? Why did he decide to rehash this subject? Was he trying to provide people with a discussion subject and thus distract attention from his presidential jiggery-pokery?

Since changes in the penal code cannot be applied retrospectively, reinstating the death penalty would not lead to life-term convict separatist chieftain Abdullah Öcalan’s execution. Yet all nationalist groups have been expressing support to reintroduce the death penalty.

What were the motives of the prime minister? Could it be just an effort to set a national discussion subject? Though such a move would not apply retrospectively, was it an effort to appease those still demanding that Öcalan should be hanged? Was he challenging those on a death fast that if they don’t behave well and insist on blackmailing the government, they might face the gallows?

Or, was he just acting with the “eye for an eye” principle of Islamist judicial culture and trying to please the conservative supporters demanding revenge for their lost ones? Was he considering reinstituting the death penalty for crimes against the state, all kinds of “multiple killers” and pedophilic crimes?
Was he just sending a strong message to those demanding Öcalan be removed from a top-security island prison and granted house arrest (there is no such punishment in Turkey’s penal code) that they should be happy that Öcalan is still alive?

In any case, for a long time there were rumors in Ankara’s political corridors that the AKP might declare the constitutional commission a failure in writing a new civilian constitution and go for a comprehensive amendment package. A package that includes Turkey moving to a presidential system of governance and reinstating the death penalty…

Can Erdoğan fool all the people all the time? Such a “catch all” net of a constitutional amendment package worked well in 2010, why should it not work again?