Opinion: Turkey’s Democracy Has Not Died This Week

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‘No’ supporters in the Kadikoy neighborhood, Istanbul (Image by AFP for Hürriyet Daily News)

The most dubious and critical election of the republic’s history has now just passed. Reason points out that mathematically “no” has won, but this issue was not a battle between simply “yes” or “no.” The government validated 2.5 million invalid “yes” votes, and Erdoğan gave a victory speech as if to say “let it go, we won already” that befooled the people when sealed ballot boxes were still waiting to be opened.

And now, the Republic is trying to balance itself on a rock with the compromise attempts from both sides of the status quo.

First of all, the opposition has never sufficiently answered the public demand for “no.” The CHP (The Republican People’s Party) leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, was never fully ready, and the AKP (Justice and Development Party) would have shifted the helm in their favor with more chaos if the “no” had won.
All the same, Kılıçdaroğlu has done nothing but preach compromise throughout the referendum campaign. The CHP is a pro-order hallow party that stands in the way of public outrage, a party that Erdoğan should be thanking at every opportunity. In every election, it successfully suppresses the accumulated anger and energy among its grassroots who wonder if it “would be different this time.”

Secondly and more importantly, the referendum result profits a majority of big businesses and international corporate hegemonies. Local CEOs and their international partners have been the ones proposing the absolute presidency for years.

The mainstream media institutions’ publications of junk articles such as “Turkey is Following a Path Towards Dictatorship” or “Turkey’s Democracy Has Died Today” are nothing but a perpetuation of what imperialist hubs have been propagating in the past. The only issue these publications have with Erdoğan, whom they kept listing him as one of the top “most effective leaders,” is his arrogance and extreme gestures. Sent out on the web like spam emails for the past days by Western media outlets, these articles have problems not with Turkey’s democracy but with a compulsive need to sensationalize its politics.

The “yes” vote that won by a small margin will tie Erdoğan’s hands and keep an agenda that will increase the circulation of capital. It happened as they wished. This has been Kılıçdaroğlu’s mission for years.

Politically, status quo has won, even if  24 million people have “officially” said “no” to this order of things. However, this balance will not remain through compromise. The largest cities in the country, including İzmir, İstanbul, and Ankara have said “no”: A government that has lost in these places does not have the license to run the country anymore. Turkey no longer carries Erdoğan.

Hundreds of thousands of people worked for “no” during the campaign through great sacrifice. Erdoğan is aware of how many votes he stole, and even as he is still trying to cover up the mess with speeches, our hearts and reason indicate “no” has won.

Nothing is over yet, it has only begun. 24 million people should not remain silent.

The insufficient opposition is looking for new compromises as the CHP wants to pacify millions of honorable citizens who voted “no” and got their votes stolen. This treachery will be heavily paid for: A referendum designated through tyranny, deceit, and theft could have no legitimacy.

But this fight is neither between Erdoğan and the West nor between CHP and AKP; it is the fight of the people for the Republic. And yet again, the republic cannot be defended through silence.

Article by Metin Demirli

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