By: Yasin Aktay*
As we rapidly head toward the June 24 elections, though the harsh criticisms made by presidential candidates about one another drop to a frustrating level at times, we can consider it from the good side and see this as the indicator of the level that democracy and freedom of expression have reached in Turkey. Those who fiercely criticized this during the switch to the presidential system with the excuse that this monopolizes all authorities and hence will lead to dictatorship, now see new hope being born for themselves in this system.
The country’s president, who is said to be a dictator, is going around Turkey from square to square, non-stop, without any breaks, and is asking the people for a five-year authority. When doing this, with his every word, every action he makes everybody sense that he is not the boss, but rather the people from whom he requests the authority. Is there any other example of such dictatorship around the world? How many dictators have passed this world knowing that the authority they are given is valid until the next election only, conveying this perception and acting accordingly?
He is such a dictator that his opponents slam and criticize him day and night in squares, on television, on all kinds of media and in every environment, and he tries to respond to them. When the opposition carelessly criticizes to the extent of it being an insult, it is thought, “the opposition is right,” but when the president responds to these criticisms in the same tone, they call it authoritarianism.
Frankly, the sole reason the president’s words are felt to be authoritarian is nothing other than the power of truth in what he is saying. Isn’t this partly the true meaning of authority anyway? The authority to say something in the right place, correctly, with competence and correlation. What they want is that the president doesn’t speak at all or that when he does, not to reflect his authority in a way that reveals their own futile words.
They actually want the opportunity to act as they wish. What they reveal with the dictator accusation is nothing other than their own yearning for dictatorship. Yet, the president is negating the reign they ensconced themselves over until now; he is destroying authority and establishing an alternative political language. While destroying the familiar power discourse in the country, he confronts the authority of the five sovereigns in the world and says, “The world is bigger than five.” Thus, it is not surprising for strong support of the world to run to the help of those in the country who are inadequate in the struggle as they accuse him of being authoritarian.
All foreign publications that present President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a “dictator” on social media have a photograph that was taken together. Can there be a more dangerous fascist authoritarianism than the union of this discourse that calls to attack Erdoğan? This is a fraudulent consensus game of lowly authoritarianism that hides behind the public mask, that does not have the courage to discuss anything honestly and that is trying to eliminate the alternative through perception games. This game has been set up to maintain the world order consisting of the five, which has been continuing from the very beginning, as is.
Yet today, the process of the presidential election alone is more than enough to expose the fraud of all these perception games. Turkey’s president is running around more than anyone, like he did in all election campaigns to date; he is more convincing than everyone else, more real than everyone else; he is working more sincerely and hence, he achieves better results than everyone else. He did not win any election to date in any other way. He did not use his authority to get anyone to vote for him. He spoke realistically to touch hearts; he had a powerful story, and when he put in more effort than everybody else, he triumphed.
The upcoming election is not expected to bring a different kind of development. There is nobody who is more genuine standing up against him. There has been nobody who is as convincing. His competitors are able to make extreme promises with irresponsible populism, promises that are unimaginable. But their plausibility is immediately measured and evaluated.
There are also those who believe these promises, and such promises are able to find buyers in the democracy market. But the democracy market has rationality, and that is what makes the final decision. They see very well that those who promise employment for one person in every family, are going to produce one more person jobless from every family once they come to power with such irresponsible generosity. By saying that he is going to appoint 1 million teachers, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is irresponsibly giving out bribes for a serious social demand. But when he is asked by a news reporter how he is going to do this, he becomes tongue-tied and ties the subject irrelevantly to students who have to go to school without having breakfast.
Freedom for Sılho, torture for Yasin Börü
The only thing remaining in relation to the democratic standard of this election is “Sılho’s captivity.” (Calling the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtaş “Sılho” is not my choice, this is how he is referred to by his supporters in squares, otherwise, I would not make such a mistake of referring to someone with a name or nickname that they do not liken to themselves.)
If you like, rethink this with the scene of Yasin Börü’s savage murder alongside scenes from ditch terrorism, along with the provocative speeches and declarations made by Sılho.
Sılho’s imprisonment is not a political matter, but rather a terror matter and the decision is made by the judiciary. He was not arrested for his political views after running as a candidate. He ran for president while under arrest for the crimes, of which there is strong evidence, that he is being accused of.
Running for president or a seat in parliament should not be used as an opportunity to avoid the consequences of a crime.
*Yasin Aktay is a member of the Turkish parliament and a leading figure of the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) in Turkey. (Published in Yeni Şafak Turkısh newspaper on 16 June, 2018)