The middle-aged man was proud of himself. If he were not a good man, he would not have good friends. If he did not have good friends, he would not be able to buy the new car with such easy conditions. The dealer not only offered a huge “friend of my friend” discount, but he offered such a payment scheme that his meager pension could comfortably afford paying the installments over the next 30 months…

“Great,” he said, “This is the payback for being an honest man with honest friends… Well done my boy!” He sat in the comfortable driver’s seat of the navy-blue car, still smelling that peculiar odor of a new car. He would not believe that almost a decade after he retired from his newspaper and after his monthly income fell down so drastically he could still afford to buy a new car, though a modest low-cost one.

He very much wanted to buy that Japanese-made hybrid one that the dealer confidently said represented a new age in the car industry. The hybrid car would perhaps help cut his petrol expense, but the new car had such a small engine that he was confident it would not consume, just smell petrol and go. After all, if being hybrid was something to be celebrated, he joked with himself, the tall man would not be so angry with the report of that international news magazine with a celebrated intelligence unit that Turkey has become a hybrid democracy.

His friend, proudly sitting on the front passenger seat, quipped, “You cannot stop being mischievous for one second Taner. You constantly do something to ruin the atmosphere.” He realized that what he believed he was thinking was indeed pouring out of his lips and his friend unintentionally eavesdropped on the thunderstorms in his brain.

 He punched the shoulder of his friend, “I will never forget what you have done. I feel like a man once again. I feel like as if I am capable of doing anything I want at this moment.” Few drops of tear poured down his cheeks as he reached and turned on the brand-new radio of his brand-new car.

“Let’s listen to some music; these cars have an incredible sound system.”

It was news hour on most channels. Either the ever-angry tall man yelling at everyone at every occasion or the little Pinocchio with an almond moustache trying to imitate the voice and behavioral pattern of the tall man was talking on some occasion to bombard what they called the “parallel state” established in the country by a clergyman living far away, across the Atlantic.

“Why are they yelling again?” he asked. “Did the Parliament not bleach the four former ministers, as the tall man wanted? If Parliament said they were not involved in corruption; the shoeboxes full of dollars indeed belonged to them and a court ruled to pay with accrued interest the millions of dollars and euros confiscated in the worst graft case of the republican history, why are they still crying?”

“Parliament did not bleach them yet… The vote was postponed to the New Year, but sure, bleaching will be done,” his friend said “What else could the deputies whose political future is in between the tall man and the little Pinocchio do? Can they say the four former ministers – one who cried and begged not to be dispatched to the High Court – were guilty? No way. They could not say it now, as the atmosphere is not suitable. Thus, they have postponed the voting to January, when they hope will be able to do it with greater ease.”

Finally, there was someone else on the radio. Was it a discussion program or a joke? Someone was condemning Turkey of being a “hybrid democracy.” He was reading from somewhere that free and fair elections and civil liberties are necessary conditions for democracy, but they are unlikely to be sufficient for a full and consolidated democracy if unaccompanied by transparent and at least a minimally efficient government, sufficient political participation and a supportive democratic political culture.

He turned to his friend, “Hybrid cars might be great, my friend. I’m very happy with my new brand-new car, but I wish I could afford one. But, as for democracy, the hybrid one stinks bad, very bad…”