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Election Countdown in Turkey

A week from today, the color of the election will be clear. There’s no sign of the old enthusiasm and expectations. Yes, it’s strange for government candidates to campaign when they should not be seen in public, given the pervasive cost of living crisis and the lack of hope for the future. However, the short analysis is that the political institution has essentially collapsed.

The revelation that the CHP paid millions in cash off the books for a building in Istanbul is the emblematic event of the election period. Not even the gossip about Gökhan Zan and Meral Akşener comes close.

The government is fully exploiting “the opposition’s failure to be an alternative.” It skillfully projects bribes and corruption with ‘verified’ examples.

While the majority of voters see the economy as the number one issue to be resolved, two things are happening:

There’s an underlying campaign that “If anyone can solve this, it’s Erdogan again!” Erdogan is persuading people to settle for less with promises of finding resources and compensating for welfare. I fear that Turkey’s elections have now entered a colorless phase similar to the last Russian elections.

With one difference; there, Putin thanks his “opponents” in the Kremlin after the election for their contributions to the “democratic election process,” showing unity. Erdogan does not do this, just to avoid disgrace!

You’re facing a greedy government. The New Welfare Party entered the election with its own lists and won 5 deputies. One of them, Suat Pamukçu, joined the AKP yesterday, and Erdogan pinned a badge on him at the Istanbul rally and raised his hand.

Political morality is nowhere to be found in either case! As Fatih Erbakan said: “Some people, lost like someone who has found treasure, are being pinned badges.”

Of course, caution is advisable. We’ve seen those who spoke harshly and swore later take back their words in the recent past. The current political experience has killed faith in politicians’ grand words. It’s high time to move to sustainable action.

I say “sustainable” because it shouldn’t start and end like the “justice march” by the former CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in 2017.

At least there was action then. The new president, Özgür Özel, was going to hold a Constitutional rally after the Can Atalay decision but postponed it, taking advantage of the news of martyrs. He couldn’t even start the action, let alone sustain it.

MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli declared December 17-25 as “Bribery and Corruption Fight Week” in 2014, and stopped the clock in his office at 17:25. It meant something back then. Özgür Özel couldn’t even leave the Parliament. He called out to Erdogan from Sinop square, saying, “Let’s open the parliament on Monday, and increase pensions on Tuesday.”

But Erdogan has no intention of giving raises… Even if he did, he probably wouldn’t share the spoils with you. What a world!

There are 6 nights left until the election, and there should be a vigorous campaign, and voters should rush to the polls with the belief that they can make a change. The situation is not like that; there’s no excitement.

The loss of faith is not just due to Erdogan plowing through the opposition field. The opposition is equally opportunistic and self-serving.

Undoubtedly, the most significant event that influenced the 2019 Istanbul election was Selahattin Demirtaş’s call on March 23, 2019, “If you care about me at all, suppress your feelings but definitely go to the polls and cast your vote against fascism.”

The dollar was at 5 liras, inflation hadn’t skyrocketed, Ekrem İmamoğlu was a new name, and there were people carrying messages to and from Demirtaş. The message had significant meaning under the conditions of that day.

5 years later, it’s strange that today, all eyes are again on Demirtaş, who has been imprisoned for about 8 years, wondering “What message will he give on Wednesday, March 27?”

If the fate of the Istanbul election is again between his lips, İmamoğlu and his surroundings should reconsider their positions. But I’m sure, on Wednesday, all their attention will be on Edirne Prison.

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