“Spring has come”: Turkish local elections

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On the 31st of March, local elections were held in Turkey. In fact, after the referendum for presidential governing system on 24th of June 2018, which officially and legally paved Erdoğan’s way for being the one and only decision-maker in the country, many people were resented by frailty of the opposition and put away the hope for change. However, in many respects, results of the recent elections showed that even in bits, democracy and will of people are still standing significantly.

Even if a variety of interpretations could be carried out on the results, this election, indeed has become one of the most anti-democratic elections in Turkey’s history. The primary responsible was media, 95% of which was overly dominated by the AKP through incarceration, change in administrative level or seizure. Media channels used the black propaganda of the current government in its news as well as overlooking the opposition. It delivered a unique performance on the basis of “fake news” before, during and after the elections of the 31st of March. It is not unexpected that Turkey was ranked as the 116th among 165 countries in the Index of Election Reliability and Correctness by Harvard University.

In such an environment, AKP bloc was not openly defeated but significantly stopped and in this sense it was seen that the resistance of the society was not breached. Loss of Ankara and Istanbul to opposition as well as other bigger cities such as Izmir, Adana, Antalya and Mersin appalled AKP-MHP alliance.

Results in Istanbul and objections from the power bloc showed that although the AKP got 53% of the votes, it indeed did not win a victory but considerably defeated. Through implicit or explicit commands of Erdogan, who were giving speeches about “national will” after each elections to failed opposition, Supreme Electoral Council agreed on re-counting the votes in certain districts of Istanbul. It is the most obvious practice of Erdogan’s quote: “Democracy is not a purpose but a vehicle to get off at a proper stop”. Ironically, the same Council, which is supposed to be impartial, had rejected many objections of opposition in previous elections despite a variety of scandals and incidents.

Democracy deficit, as a result, triggered the ongoing instability and economic turmoil but on the other hand turned the candidate of the opposition for Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu into a victim and democracy hero. Reason of delay in giving mandate to the electee is the fear that corruption, injustice and interests which had been maintained by Erdogan and his party afterwards for 25 years, can be revealed now. Through objections and persecutions, the opposition is tried to be dominated psychologically. Yet, one must keep in mind that “you can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming”.

 

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