It is 10th May, Wednesday, three days to the make-or-break it presidential and parliamentary elections for the people and country of Turkey. It is also the fourth day since I reset my wakeup call from 04:00AM to 01:00AM (GMT+3) local time in Tanzania, East Africa. Why? To give myself more time for research into my six-pronged “latest-on-Turkey-polls” search about campaigns, pollster trend reports, contenders and what they sell and how, the Supreme Election Council also appearing as the Supreme Board of Elections (YSK), the judiciary, chief prosecutors’ offices and the official poll information flow provider, Anadolu.
After this time of enduring and uninterrupted search, my mind clicks back old school days when we had to address the issue of ambiguity as part of the study of logic. “The main property of ambiguity”, we were impressed upon, “was to make it impossible for us to determine the truth-value of a statement.” What impression do I get from the search? Could Erdogan be going to the polls naked in a four-piece suit?
Going naked in a four-piece suit is definitely a case of ambiguity. And until one rids this statement of ambiguity one is not in a position to evaluate its “truth-value” of Turkey’s incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is seeking reelection. How can a president go ‘naked’? Has this stetement got any “truth-value” of Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party?
Revelations, the likes of Ali Yesildag and Sedat Peker aside because these essentially paint a picture of a sort of “for-your-eyes-only” high profile terribe and horrible sophisticated palace incidents, what is available to disambiguate Erdo..gan’s rule and political life from the perspective of the common man at the grassroots? Palace circles are like Class One contractors’ sites, which have Class One problems. Here I am trying to look at Erdogan’s rule disambiguation away from stories such as of an imaginable $1billion bribe to a common voter grappling with securing a loaf of bread or a decent day’s meal for the family. What is the Erdogan’s rule “truth-value”?
African indigenous knowledge upholds: “Atela abana atela bona”, meaning that he who beats children, beats them all. Any kind of discrimination in leadeship is something abhored. What do we find in the Erdogan-AKP pattern? The Kurds and an accompanying assortment of Kurd variations. The Alevi Islam believers in their unrecognised worship (mosques) houses. Members of the Fethullah Gulen influenced faith-based Hizmet (Service) Movement and the Gulenists appendage.
Anybody taken for a disident in Turkey can be branded terrorist and, therefore, exposed to the wrath of Erdogan’s regime. Thus, areas accommodating Kurdish leaders and communities in Iraq and Syria have been targets of Turkish air raids claiming innocent lives as well. There is no difference between the armed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and knifeless Hizmet (Service) Movement. Both are branded terrorist organizations.
About 25 years after Fethullah Gulen’s life outside Turkey, people deemed to be his followers or kin, are still being arrested and detained on warrants issued by public prosecutors offices and court orders. Until less than two weeks to the polls, 31 people were detained in one week by police in Istanbul alone over Gulen links. The Bursa figure stood at 14, including teachers, students and businessmen. In all, more than 80 relatives of Gulen, hoever distant or for just a name, are behind bars.
In Turkey, as one of Erdogan’s former associate said, “there is no law, no order; the prosecutor, police, genadarmerie, courts and ministers all belong to him. What can you say? You can’t even write about it.” And he is right. On the World Press Freedom Day, eleven days to the polls, Turkey sent five more journalists to jail, displaying all signs of impunity.
Erdogan Vs Reconciliation
To borrow from a school Chemistry lab experiment language, Erdogan and reconcilliation have the same charge. They repel. And in the event of something that looks like reconcilliation taking place involving him, just wait. There will be something up the sleeves of his jacket.
In his true colors, Erdogan vowed that so long as he is in power, Selahattin Demirtas, former co-chair of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) which is taken to be pro-Kurd (that is pro-PKK), will remain in prison. That is Erdogan per se. But, he is the same person said to have also built “luxurious quarters” for PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, currently imprisoned at Imrah island on the Sea of Marmara since his capture from Nairobi, East Africa, in 1999.
There are also contradicting AKP statements of alleged talks with Ocalan with Justice Minister Bakir Bozdag calling Erdogan sending a delegation to meet Ocalan “a lie”, while the party’s candidate for Diyarbakir says the government was in “constant contact”. Opposition IYI (Good Party) leader, Meral Aksener claimed that the government recently sent a person from the judiciary to Imrah Island. Which is which and why?
Investigative journalist Ahmed Dicle provided the answer. Through an interview with Oclan in jail, he got it from the horse’s mouth that the Erdogan government has been trying to secure his support for the presidential and parliamentary polls – something that has failed. After that, why shouldn’t Demirtas remain in jail? It was all for the sake of the ballot numbers; not reconcilliation.
Turkey Workers fraternity
According to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Turkey is among the ten worst countries in the world for the working people. “Workers’ freedoms and rights continued to be relentlessly denied with police crackdowns on protests in 2022. Trade union leaders were arbitrary arrested and their homes raided. Employers continued to engage in systematic union-busting by methodically dismissing workers who attempted to organise.” On 2023 May Day, police detained 35 people trying to demonstrate against economic hardship and the exploitatin of labour.
Unionization which stood at 58% in 2003 has dropped to 44. At the same time many workers who have joined the unions have been fired. New laws have made it easier for employers to recruit without providing insurance and leading to longer working hours in the private sector on top of raising the retirement age. In the first four months of 2023 a total of 585 workers have died due to bad working conditions bringing the total of occupational deaths to 31,131 since Ergodan came into power.
This does not constitute the right mix for prompting workers into a “tick” vote for Erdogan – the most recent 40% rise in salaries notwithstanding. After all, the official inflation rate is already in the region of 80% and there is no guarantee that all that has gone wrong for the working population would improve if Edrdogan remains in power.
When I was patching up this analysis, news from Germany about the polls pointed in a not-so-fair-and-free direction. According to the , official Turkey news agancy, Anadolu, there are 3.4 million voters abroad, the majority of whom, 1,501,152, live in Germany. Supporters of Turkish President Erdogan are reported to have been trying to intimidate voters. A co-leader of the local Republican People’s Party (CHP) said he had seen groups of pro-Erdogan demonstrators at the consulate in Berlin’s Neukolin district. “We are being provoked. But we won’t rise to it. If they are waiting in the consulate for us to say something back, we won’t do that. We don’t want a fight.”
If this is something to go by, a “stay at home on the election night”warning to supporters of Nation Alliance by presidential candidate. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, due to indications of provocations should be taken seriously. Erdogan clearly has made billions of dollars during his reign qualifying him for participating in the presidential poll in a four-piece suit. But with no law, no order and the prosecutor, police, genadarmerie, courts and ministers under his feet, isn’t he actually going to the polls (ethically and morally) naked? Isn’t that his “truth-value”even if he manipulates the process?