Some Political Rants
18 Apr 2017
I don’t think I a able to hold on much longer. Yesterday I was going for a “not a rant”, but this time it is a rant. A full-on rant. I don’t think that the current state of Turkish politics needs much explanation, but whatever. Let me start by making something clear; writing in English makes me much more likely to express my deeper political thoughts as I’m far less worried that this might get read, understood and reported to authorities by someone, much less that the authorities will both understand and care (“The authorities” have recently shown that they might care about some unlucky but non-influentual fellows but I have literally never seen someone get in trouble for something written in English).
To get the point, we had a constitutional referendum a couple of days ago. According to official-ish results (As reported by AA, the state-owned news agency, but not by the actual electoral authority. Not that it matters much) the ‘yes’ side won by 51.something percent to 48.something percent. Honestly, I don’t this should be anywhere near the required majority to modify a constitution, but that’s an entirely different matter. The thing is, these elections weren’t fair to begin with, but now it increasingly seems like it wasn’t free either. And it’s not like that the government tries very hard to hide that fact there was omething wrong.
We start by the “not fair” argument. The campaign has been going on for the last 3 months, and there was an official State of Emergency for the entire duration of the campaign. A State of Emergency doesn’t exactly suspend Habeas Corpus, but damages it significantly. For example; the maximum duration between a person’s arrest and the charges being shown is extended from 72 hours to 30 fucking days. Another thing is that the president has temporary decree powers for the duration of emergency and those can’t be appealed to as long as the emergency continues. Another thing is that the campaign has been anything but equal. The president is legally “neutral” and can’t favor one party over the other. The only thing isn’t that everybody knows the president favors one party over the other, but he previously stated “Obviously I favor one party over others”. I don’t think you can get less legal can that. For the previous “neutrality” reason, any event attended by the president are not considered “campaigning” and they are financed by taxpayer money. One of the opposition party has its leaders etc. arrested for terror charges. The president has also accused (several times) the “No” campaign of being in bed with terrorists. Not mentioning the whole very-obviously biased media thing and unequal chances of campaigning.
Now we get to the “not free” side. There is countless examples (together with photo and video evidence) of voter intimidation. Like literally some guy with an AK47 standing next to a voting booth. Or literally some guy stamping a large number of ballots on camera. There is also already a staggering number of mathematical pieces of evidence (Like ridiculously large number of ballot boxes that had 100% turnout and 100% yes votes). Another threat to the “freedom” of the election is one that we discussed in the previous patagraph. Arrestng a major party’s election observers literally a couple of days before the election doesn’t scream “free” to me. Now we get to the elephant in the room. The Schrödinger’s ruling. On the couple of days before the voting, the electoral committee had explicitly declared that ballot papers without official seals on as “invalid”. They also made a previous ruling about that exact issue in ballots cast abroad, ruking them as invalid again. Then, on election day, about 10 minutes before the polling had ended, they broadcast to all polling stations a ruling that “ballots without official seals are valid as well”. The same ruling was also posted on their web site as well. That pretty much instantly cast a huge shadow on the validity of the referendum. Then the results came in. There was only one news agency that was broadcasting the results, AA (government owned). Their faults warrant a whole another rant but that’s not huge compared to all those stuff. Then the results ended up being an incredibly close “yes”. Then Erdogan spoke, I’m guessing that the supporters that are not completely blinded kind of wish he never did, basically repeatedly saying paraphrased equivalents of “We won by a thin margin, suck it losers”. Kind of (not completely, only kind of) confirming the whole “rigged” argument. Then the chairman of the electoral commission (Mind you, not directly appointed by the “neutral” president. Only indirectly) spoke, saying that, “yeah we did this, so what”. The problem is; that ruling is illegal. Very obviously, blatantly illegal. So illegal that I, having nothing to do with law, answered “is that legal?” as a first reply. The thing is; there is an actual article of law that states this. The electoral comission is a regulatory one. Regulatory comissions can’t overrule legislation. It doesn’t end there. We learned two days later, that there is actually no such ruling. Such a ruling was broadcast to polling stations, broadcast on their website. You can personally make inquiries to the comission the first couple of days after an election. Lots of people did on Monday. Lots of people were given an official answer. The answer reads; “What ruling? There is no such ruling”. Mind you, nothing changed in those two days in the electoral comission. And now (after I started writing that rant) I overheard that the same comission investigated the election with regards to their (not-really-real) ruling, and then found the whole thing legal. Not that I was expecting anything else.
In the end, I was kind of hopeless about the election, thinking that “If no wins, it would be rigged anyways” but that way is so blatantly obvious that I simply can’t respect the elections in this country anymore. I had decided to boycott every further election or referendum in the country (I later changed that decision, to be explained just now). I simply lost faith in the entire electoral system. Started advocating for an entire vithdrawal of all opposition parties from the parliament. Then they started responding, I won’t go too harsh on HDP as their leaders and many influential figures are in prison now. Howeer, I won’t be so soft on other opposition figures (CHP, mostly). I was also expecting them to act in a very spineless fashion. Guess I don’t like being proven right. They definitely acted in a very spineless fashion, just decided against officially withdrawing from the parliament. I mean, things might have turned out significantly different if they just withdrew way back in 2013 or so. Another thing is the whole secular nationalist (ulusalci) folks. I’m not too angry at them, I just think that they are deluded. They all band behind some different guy from the right wing of the politics, and think that they would get all the support from the AKP crowd. I’m also kind of angry at the previous electoral choices of CHP (Running Ekmeleddin? Running Sarigul for the mayor of Istanbul? The whole Ihsan Ozkes debacle? Nominating Baykal for speaker of the parliament even though the MHP kept refusing support?) that I basically explained as “Well, those shitty people are too shitty. Maybe if we run those also-shitty candidates they’ll turn out less shitty?”. After realizing that, I changed my views from “boycott all the elections” to “literally vote AKP every election” as long as the opposition keeps making the same mistakes over and over / keeps hoping that “This time, it might be OK”.