Canan Ozturk | Apr 5, 2019 | 0
Hey, Preachers! Leave’em Citizens Alone
Contrary to popular belief, few genres delve into political issues as frequently as rock, which has been best known by the motto of “sex, drug and rock”.
This music genre and its listeners provoke an anti – establishment ideology and a rebellious and anti – conformist attitude to life and political issues through thought – provoking lyrics. “Another Brick in the Wall” by the British rock band Pink Floyd is one of those classical rock songs with its conceptual and philosophical lyrics. More than one generation knows the outcry of “Hey teachers! Leave them kids alone!” The multi-layered meaning of the lyrics fits to the swaying political feelings of tired people. The mentioned outcry is people’s knee-jerk reaction to the establishment and/or the government saying “enough is enough” and shouting that they are just another brick in the wall.
Following a traumatic and tiring election campaign in Turkey, a large percentage of the population went to the polls on March 31 to decide for their provincial mayors. The citizens’ duties end at that point in standard democratic countries and they just check for the winners, but Turkey is quite different from every corner of the world. After voting, many citizens observe the open counting, take a copy of the official report, send it to relevant NGOs (such as Oy ve Ötesi – Vote and Beyond), and follow up on the ballot-filled sacks until it is delivered to district and/or provincial election boards. And, until they have preliminary results, the night continues to check on the polls from television broadcasts. In 17 years of rule by the AKP (Justice and Development Party), the opposition electorate was very suspicious of election fraud due to rumors at times, but on occasion because of serious claims. As a result of this, every step has since been meticulously followed. However, we still have no preliminary results for many provinces in March 31 local elections, including Ankara and Istanbul metropolitans, due to party objections, mainly by AKP; so D – day did not end. And a new chapter is being opened; never – ending statements by leaders, candidates and party executives have begun to be aired one after the other preaching to citizens about the electorate law, their victory, the anti – democratic attitude of rivals, etc.
The preaching of the party leaders began with no less than 3 rallies a day, sometimes even 8, through efforts to galvanize and consolidate their supporters through the election campaign period. The leaders of the Nation’s Alliance (AKP+MHP), in particular, used the rhetoric of “survival,” defined repeatedly what was a “terrorist” and “traitor” in their rallies and televised interviews. And, having razor thin differences in numerous provinces after the election; all political parties filled objections resulting in new preaching on electoral laws and democratic rights.
Leave’em citizens alone
As I mentioned in a previous piece “Istanbul has always been an indicator of political trends in elections with its large population of over 15 million. It has also been governed by the same team since 1994; first by Erdoğan with the Welfare Party, than by AKP (Justice and Development Party). You might say that winning in Istanbul is also Erdoğan’s prestige because he began his political career there and any decline in the percentage of AKP votes would also imply a weakening in his political popularity.” This is the reason of objections, recounting and endless declarations and preaches of the leaders, candidates and party executives.
On the election night, Ekrem Imamoğlu, the opposition alliance’s candidate, claims that while minor errors may occur, their data matches the Supreme Election Board (YSK) data and he should be named as the mayor. For his part, Binali Yıldırım, the ruling party’s candidate, challenged him for a ballot count if he is certain of his victory in Istanbul while calling on everyone to respect the Supreme Election Board’s work. On the other hand, President Erdoğan spoke to his voters late in the election night claiming that AKP had an overall victory in the elections, 15 points ahead of CHP, the main opposition party. “Our party has emerged from the Turkish mayoral elections by a wide margin,” said Erdoğan, adding “Although we may not have won the mayors of the metropolitan municipality, we have won most of its municipalities in the district,” He also told his supporters not to be heartbroken, adding “We’re going to see how they’re going to manage the cities”
The ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) appealed to the electoral boards of the district and then to the provincial electoral board of Istanbul to recount invalid votes in more than a dozen districts and all votes in three Istanbul districts. This is where never-ending statements have been introduced to Turkish citizen’s lives; the candidates (Imamoğlu and Yıldırım), President Erdoğan, Bahçeli- leader of MHP (Nationalist Movement Party), leaders of People’s Alliance (Kılıçdaroğlu and Akşener), the spokesperson of the parties (Ömer Çelik, Faik Öztrak), provincial chairman of the parties (Bayram Şenocak, Canan Kaftancıoğlu), many MPs… Countless names and titles, and endless statements.
Imamoğlu said the difference was slightly below 19,000 and the recounting of invalid votes did not make a significant difference to the polls ‘ overall results. He critiqued the efforts of AKP to recount all votes in Istanbul and added that taking security measures for safe polls was the responsibility of the ruling party. “What you said was the safest system was in Turkey. You also said that for the Election Day you employed more than a million people. So where are we heading to? Is it ‘ Let’s count the votes until the loss of Imamoğlu? It’s a tragicomic thing,” he added. After a few days of silence, on April 5 after Friday prayer, President Erdoğan spoke and criticized the opposition for not showing patience so that the Supreme Election Board could fulfill its job.
The AKP executives argue that the invalid votes jeopardized the results and it was the biggest stain in the history of Turkish democracy. Imamoğlu, the opposition candidate of Istanbul, disagreed to aforementioned statement and “until yesterday, the government and the ruling party claimed that Turkey had the most credible voting system and gave it the highest praise.’ If any suspicious activity existed, they would record it and produce a written report-that is the official procedure here. The only explanation I have now is that they allege an excuse for their failure,” he added. He also asked why appeals were rejected in Balıkesir and Muş provinces, where there was a very narrow race to benefit AKP, as each and every AKP request was confirmed in Istanbul polls. He also pointed out that the CHP (Republican People’s Party) was not opposing to the appeal process, but criticized the double standards imposed to opposition parties’. As a note; out of 118 total districts challenged: – AKP challenged 67, granted 58 recounts, only 2 rejections, 7 to be decided – Opposition challenged 40, granted 5 so far.
It’s just another brick in the wall
The current situation is the continuation of the process of recounting and the constant statements on rights, democracy, and transparency by this or that party, leader, and candidate. There are also objections in many provinces other than Istanbul; therefore, the election period cannot be wrapped up. March 31 local elections are the seventh election in five years and it’s not over yet with all the burdens of polarization, harsh statements, unjust feelings, expectations, obstacles and fears. Turkish people are tired of adrenaline and injustice because of swaying political sentiments, and outcry to entire politicians, but mostly to the government; “enough is enough” and shouting:
“Hey, preachers! Leave them citizens alone. All in all it’s just another brick in the wall”
Other highlights from past week
The United States announced April 1 that it would suspend all deliveries and activities related to Turkey’s F-35 jet procurement over Turkey’s plans to buy the S-400 system from Russia. They advised that instead of incompatible S400, Turkey should buy US Patriots that are compatible with NATO systems. U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanan declared his expectations on Aril 2, 2019 to resolve the S400 dispute between Turkey and the U.S. On the other hand, the Turkish MFA, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, stressed that in Washington, S400 was a done deal. Furthermore, the AKP (Justice and Development Party) spokesperson said that the request to withdraw an agreement that had already been concluded was disrespectful of Turkish sovereignty, and Turkey would not give credit to that. Çelik also pointed out that Turkey was a key NATO ally, and questioning its membership also questioned the alliance’s values.
Turkey decided to buy the S-400 system in 2017, after prolonged efforts to buy air defense systems from the U.S. in 2017.
State-run news agency: Anadolu News Agency
Turkish state – run Anadolu Agency is the only news agency that broadcasts polling data on the night of local elections in Turkey, with reporters throughout the country at polling stations, providing live data on election results. The state news agency stopped publishing results of voting in the decisive hours following the recent municipal elections in Turkey. Representatives of the opposition blamed the agency for being biased and asked how the results from the ballots were achieved.
“Unfortunately, the Anadolu Agency left a bad mark on the history of democracy in Turkey,” said Ekrem Imamoglu, CHP candidate for mayor of Istanbul.