OK, so you can probably guess that things didn’t go the way expected (or rather than ever unreliable pollsters had predicted) and we’re now facing another 5 years of poor blaming/shaming/bashing and so forth. While the opposition try and avoid going into melt down like they did in 1979.
This weekend though, it’s time for round two. Husband will be driving down to the embassy to cast his vote in the Turkish Elections, along with friends from the local Turkish community. We had considered making a day of it and having a family day in London, but the weather looks pants and I’ve just started my new job so would prefer to stay closer to home with the kids. I suppose is a bit unfair given that they came with me when I voted and we did have some conversations about the various parties. I’m certainly not as spot on at informing my kids and making them politically aware as other people I know, but even so if they are of two halves they should see both.
Possibly I have assumed it’s husband’s role to engage them with the Turkish political scene. We did used to chat a lot about it, but we’re very different and for the past few years it has become more of a closed subject as areas of common ground seem fewer. More likely it is down to my disengagement from Turkish politics through a combination of my no longer being there, my experiences of daring to have opinions while I did live there, and utter disillusionment with how things have developed over the past 10 years.
However, while I no longer actively seek out stories on Turkey and Turkish politics, I do see things posted by various friends; and that is how I came across this:
Certainly this article is not a potted history of the last 10 years, or offering any deep analysis of the current Turkish political situation. However, it is very telling of how the old idiom “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is playing out, particularly in relation to one, now overwhelmingly powerful person. That doesn’t mean that I think the man started off reasonable and level headed, he clearly had a plan/vision. But rather that this individual is-like so many others in the past-very cleverly lining all his cards up and ensuring his vision becomes a reality. Sadly not just to the detriment of democracy.
There are quite a few memes on the web comparing the man in question to Hitler. I wouldn’t go that far, I don’t think his ideology goes as far as to systematically wipe out an entire ethnic group or population. But the above article clearly displays a maniacal belief that fear is an acceptable state for citizens of a society to live in. Is this idea unique to him though? I would argue not. Turkey, for much of it’s history has relied on fear and mistrust when governing: fear of deviating from Ataturk’s principles; fear of the uneducated masses; fear of the Kurds wanting to tear Turkey apart; fear of the religious right wanting to take Turkey to the dark side and become and islamic state; fear that if the army weren’t a dominant force in political life the country would become unstable; fear of a free press daring to criticise. It becomes very different though when one man, who has successfully gained, manipulated, and now wields more power than any of his predecessors for the past 30 years, stands up and announces that any one who disagrees with him is an enemy and that fear is a norm.
Fear and enemies are not new in Turkish politics, nor are jailing journalists and limiting free speech, but it certainly seems to have scaled up since the party have been in power. But on the flip side, and this is what gets me in to trouble, he’s had a free ride to do this while the multiple opposition parties have been in chaos and reeling from and election victory, the size of which took them by surprise. That doesn’t mean people haven’t protested, but his contempt of democracy outside the ballot box was shown during the Gezi park protests, and so they don’t count to him.
So while the expat Turks will be, this week, going to consulates and embassies to cast their vote, I wonder if there is now a voice in Turkey who can deal the current ruling party a blow by acting as a united opposition with a plan. Yet at the same time I hold back from discussing with my kids how there is a very small minded man: who has forgotten that leadership is as much about listening to your critics and growing, as it is about vision; who believes his way is the only/best way, and that that is a very dangerous thing to believe let alone be able to enact; who doesn’t understand that while the personal maybe political it is not the same as imposing your beliefs about how people should run their personal lives; who holds grudges and wishes to punish those who hurt him rather than being the bigger person and building bridges and reconciliation; and who believes in a concrete modernity and disregards the environment.
Actually if the polls are accurate there is hope. The Kurdish party seems to be gaining support from outside their traditional area, and stands a good chance of reaching the 10% threshold to gain seats in parliament. Trouble is, as the UK election recently highlighted, it wasn’t the opinion polls that were accurate but the exit polls.