Cengiz Aktar
Jan 14 2018

Electioneering in Turkey ...again

The only thing left from the cadaver of Turkey’s democracy is the right to elect and be elected, yet not for everyone...

And the country, despite being exhausted from all the recent elections, is greedily talking ballot box once again.

Everyone, the regime, the opposition, the public is convinced about the high importance of the elections.

Let's take a closer look:

The legitimacy of the regime derives from the vote of the “holy nation” as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan likes to call his supporters. The almighty one is basing all his discourse, domestic and international, on the votes he gets. He dismisses all objections using this legitimacy. Hence, the election is his utmost priority. Sleeves rolled up, he is busy preparing to win the forthcoming local, parliamentary and presidential polls. He seems determined not to leave anything to chance, and he appears to be hell-bent on doing everything possible to win.

He is trying to strengthen his base with the surgical operations he has been doing on the AKP organisation.

The Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) will soon name some of the Court of Cassation and Council of State members, newly appointed through government executive orders. Thus, the YSK will be entirely under the control of the regime.

Again, through executive orders, the poll security laws were redesigned to favour the regime thus to deteriorate poll impartiality and transparency.

With the amendments to the elections law, electoral districts will be restructured to the advantage of the regime’s party.

With the amendments to the political parties law, the inspection of parties’ financial discipline and compliance with the fundamental principles of the republic will be transferred to YSK, controlled by the administration.

Politically the regime is mobilising every resource at its disposal to preclude the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) from next elections.

The new nationalist opposition Good Party is also in the crosshairs of these tactics and strategic operations. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is painted into a tight corner both with court proceedings and operations directed at its municipalities.

Let's not forget that snap or not the elections will most likely take place under the ongoing state of emergency and that by itself makes it impossible to have a free and fair vote. And if by any chance the state of emergency is lifted that would mean the regime feels secure enough to not need the emergency rule.

Nevertheless, if all these legal-sounding measures turn out to be inadequate, the regime can always resort to widespread election fraud like it unabashedly did in previous elections, or it can even utilise his unofficial law enforcement units. The newly established Good Party has reliable sources of information and has been talking about the issue for days now.

The goal of the administration for the local elections is to win the highest number of municipalities. Nonetheless, considering the recently removed and jailed mayors, it is difficult to talk anymore about the independence of local government in Turkey.

The government’s plan for the parliamentary election is a two-party parliament entirely under the control of the presidential palace with a weakened CHP as the sole opposition. It goes without saying that the world record 10 percent threshold to enter the parliament will remain untouched. 

And the strategy for the presidential election is to legitimise the de facto presidential system by guaranteeing the votes of the “holy nation”.

Despite all these efforts, if the ruler still senses it he might lose the elections, he would merely cancel them under the pretext of a coup attempt, a terrorist attack, a war etc., and continue to rule the country.

Let's not forget that for Erdoğan the elections are legitimate as long as he and those he appoints for parliamentary and local government candidacies are the winners. The June 7, 2015 election, where the AKP failed to win a majority, is a sealed proof of this.

Let’s have a look to the opposition. 

The HDP is under tremendous pressure. Its jailed co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has resigned. The party, with its detained mayors and members of parliament, is trying hard to stay alive.

The CHP and Good Party are trying their hands at election engineering and have started to make campaign promises. But none of the potential candidates pose a danger to Erdoğan’s re-election.

The reasons are the weakness of candidates, the near impossibility of forming a coalition around themselves and the fact that the opposition parties' programmes consist of nothing more than “anti-Erdoğanism”.

The so-called “anti-fascist front” that some have started to talk of is a daydream and the revived “No Bloc” is far from being a bloc and consists of apples and pears. This was also proven on June 7, 2015. That bloc won those elections, then fell apart!

When it comes to the society, the state-prone business world and the masses that passionately follow the reis have no problem with the regime.

At the opposition camp, there is an increasingly popular dream of an “electoral transition”. Almost like “we'll show how things work when we win the elections” kind of a delusion...

Solution making in Turkey consists of being elected to an executive position and then of imposing a top down solution to problems.

The society does not have the strength, or intention to think, “How did we get here” or “What kind of government do we want?”

There is a widespread belief that the elections will solve the problems, bring us back to the glorious past, while devastated institutions and the social deprivation will be cured swiftly, like a miracle.

And there is such desperation that there are masses of people willing to vote for anyone opposing Erdoğan. As if merely opposing Erdoğan can by itself be a political agenda.

There is no talk of the century-long moral abyss since the Armenian Genocide, nor of half of society's fondness of fascism, nor of the solutions to the Kurdish problem, nor of the fact that the EU opportunity is lost forever, nor of the devastation on nature-human-animal-city-culture, nor of what the new social contract should look like.

Never mind those, people don't even care about the news that the regime was informed of the coup attempt days before, or even Reza Zarrab’s accusations of vast felony.

Yet we are continually told to not lose our hope.

But the point is, rather than losing or not losing our hope, we skip the fundamental questions and pin our hopes on elections.

The regime is pleased with this rhetoric of hope. It releases the pressure on the opposition by keeping their dreams alive, letting them hope that despite their miserable life in the end, everything will be alright.

On the other hand, those who put their hopes on the elections are unaware that they are being played by the rules of the ruler.

The most dramatic example is the imposition of the presidential system. Around the time of the referendum last spring and when possible election frauds were being discussed, some suggested that we should reject the fait accompli of this un-democratic system. It is all forgotten. We are already talking about who ought to be the next president.

The AKP came with an election, but the regime will not end with an election.

If it does, all the officials, to start with the boss will find themselves at the High Court, defending their actions. That much is clear.

Moreover, because of their role in the Syrian civil war, the indictment of the International Criminal Tribunal will always be a threat to them.

It is about time we woke up and start asking the fundamental questions.