Time For Some to Take a Hard Look in the Mirror #TurkeysNewJourney
A sense of total defeatism has taken over a portion of Turkish society following Sunday’s elections, which led incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to victory, effectively making him Turkey’s sole ruler.
Many are explaining the result by pointing to the less than level playing field engineered by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), a judiciary which can on the beck and call of the executive silence the opposition media, and the emergency rule in force that gave the government powers to introduce curbs one would not have under a normal democratic system.
There is a lot of merit to these arguments since no one who has any sense of objectivity can argue that these elections were conducted in a fair and equal environment.
That having been said though, the massive turnout for the balloting proved that the Turkish public is not disinterested or indifferent to the democratic process. Otherwise it would have been all too simple for people to say that there was no point to voting because the outcome was preordained.
Nevertheless, the large turnout, and the over 20 point gap between the votes for the victor and the runner-up, indicates that despite everything, Erdogan still stood a good chance of winning, even if he had to work harder for his victory, had he not manipulated the playing field.
This is the point that many Turks who loath him and clamor for the old days do not want to accept.
Many from these quarters are now saying, “if this is democracy I want nothing of it.” There are also many who are recalling Socrates’s argument – which they probably learned from social media rather than reading Plato – that democracy is a system for the educated, and adding that Turkey is not ready for this system of government.
We even have an opposition deputy whose candidate lost the presidential elections saying vengefully that after this result this nation deserves everything it gets.
What then is the alternative? What are they proposing?
The only viable alternative for these people is another kind of authoritarian rule that keeps the “uneducated classes” away from the ballot box, so that their own lifestyles are not disrupted.
This is why many today bemoan the fact that the Turkish military’s political wings have been clipped, so that it can’t intervene, as it did in the past, and prevent “undesirable elements” from gaining power.
These quarters do not bother to give any thought either to the fact that it was perhaps this entrenched, and highly skewed, elitist political culture of the past that ultimately spawned what we have today.
The irony is that those who claim today that Turkey is not ready for democracy are doing so in the name of what they consider to be “modernity.” What they desire, though, is modernity without democracy.
It all boils down in the end to a socio-cultural choice between one kind of authoritarian government and another.
It’s time for this portion of society to wake up from its pipe-dreams and realize that the only choice for a diverse country like Turkey – with so many socio-economic, religious, and ethnic fault-lines – is democracy.
Rather than trying to undermine the deficient democracy we have, they should be working with all their might, and face all the risks that this entails, to instill a truly pluralistic democratic culture in this country.
If, they were capable of doing that, though, they would have done it in the past, and Turkey would not be where it is now.
So, rather than coming up with ridiculous explanations, those admirers of the old established order, whose numbers are by no means insignificant, should take a hard look in the mirror first.