On May 14, Türkiye will hold its presidential and parliamentary elections. Two leading political alliances, namely the People’s Alliance led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Nation Alliance led by the main opposition party Republican People’s Party (CHP), will race for power. Despite some setbacks, President Erdoğan will highly likely raise the trophy, though the opposition remains confident that their candidate, CHP Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, will be the new president, and that they will win a majority of seats in Parliament.
Regardless of which side will win the elections, one point that the observers highlight, particularly Western media and their columnists, must be deconstructed. It is the claim that the Turkish opposition is more democratic and will reinstate democracy. As a citizen and resident of Türkiye, I assume that foreigners are either biased or do not know the Turkish opposition well.
When I was a student at university in the late 1990s, I remember that girls wearing headscarves were asked by instructors either to unveil or leave the class. Among female students, there was even a daughter of one of the lawmakers. I also witnessed that business owners with the same ideology as the opposition, literally secular political parties like CHP, did not allow pious people to work at their companies and this attitude continues.
This is not to degrade the argument of the seculars’ views of conservative people. In general, a large number among the Turkish opposition do not tolerate the values, faith and lifestyle of ordinary Turkish people that support the incumbent government. Perhaps, this is why people keep them in the opposition and use them as a means to bring conservative-right wing government to their terms.
Unfortunately, Western pundits do not grasp the Turkish people’s perspective and they really think that if the opposition comes to power, democracy will be back in Türkiye. No, this will not be the case. First of all, democracy is right there in Türkiye. If it was not, there would be no elections or political alliances.
Not authoritarian figure
Second, the notion that Erdoğan is an authoritarian figure should be reevaluated as well. For instance, there is no crackdown on dissidents or journalists, or opposition politicians as alleged. No journalist without an affiliation with a terrorist organization is in jail now. No politician that distances themselves from terrorist organizations is imprisoned. Besides, the crimes of those jailed are not just supporting terrorism but getting involved in it. Plus, Erdoğan’s government is still in a reactive position against dissidents consisting of extensions of terrorist organizations and those scorning people due to losing their privileges after Erdogan’s reign. He incurred one popular uprising, two coups, two natural disasters and one economic crisis stemming from the mentioned incidents. What he does is sustain his people-granted power against undemocratic attempts, aiming to overthrow him.
In addition, the idea that there is a “one-man rule” in Türkiye just aims to demonize President Erdoğan. In Türkiye, people can overthrow any leader through elections if they dislike him. Despite that, blaming a president as authoritarian means indirectly disrespecting the people’s will. Moreover, none can call a leader a dictator in a dictatorial regime but the Turkish opposition dares to insult Erdoğan with all kinds of defamatory words, proving that they are merely engaging in black propaganda.
Consequently, my argument is that if President Erdoğan loses the elections, the political environment will hardly be democratic. Also, the current opposition’s power will probably last three years at most because there will certainly be a clash among constituent parties of the Nation Alliance over power sharing and the intra-alliance conflict will most likely disrupt governmental services and projects. Also, particularly pious people will suffer from exclusionary behaviors. It will not be surprising if a new headscarf problem comes along. Media will also be under control as the opposition openly threatens to close today’s pro-government media.
Above all, the contract that parties in the Nation Alliance signed a few weeks ago threatens the current political system which they want to change. Currently, the opposition’s Nation Alliance has four small parties, all of which have less than a 1% share of votes as per polls. One of them is even expected to have only 0.01% of votes in elections. However, despite being small, their leaders were promised to be vice presidents, having at least one minister in Cabinet, and a few lawmakers in Parliament.
The new system obviously does not aim to abandon the so-called “one-man rule” but replace it with the “six-man rule,” which is based on personal ambitions and interests, that may cast democracy aside through abusing the democratic system.
Source: Daily Sabah