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MEHMET Y. YILMAZ

myy@hurriyet.com.tr

MEHMET Y. YILMAZ >Will President Erdoğan change?

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An overriding issue that everyone is concerned about is whether the president will endorse a conciliatory rhetoric toward the other half of the nation, or will he totally ignore that segment?

If President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was acting like he was in the first years of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), we could have positively answered this question.

Yet the rhetoric as well as the policy he pursued in the last seven years of his government has changed.

He is not concerned about being unifying. The only aim he has is to keep those who voted for his party together, to prevent the shifts.

And we can say that he has done so successfully till this day. Only once, in this referendum, he was not successful to influence a crowd that normally votes for his party in the elections. 

But he knows well that when it comes to the elections, he would get what he wants if he can make those who vote for his party to feel under threat. 

When it comes to threat; there are so many of them. He can create an army of enemies, starting from the European Union, going as far as to an unidentified “upper mind,” as well as those who support the tutelage system, even though no one knows who they actually are.

That’s why no one expects the president to conduct a unifying role.

There are only limited days for him to come back to the helm of the party as president. He could even toughen his old policy toward the elections.

Will that benefit the country?

No doubt it won’t. But let’s not forget that his primary target is to stay in power; to set up a one-man rule. 
While doing that, some might get offended. I don’t think he would make any issue of that.

The report prepared by international observers from the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe to monitor the referendum reveals that the referendum did not take place under fair circumstances. 

This is not a secret; we have lived through this process all together.

We witnessed the fact that several gatherings and demonstrations were cancelled due to the practices of the state of emergency.

Nearly all the leadership cadres and mayors of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are in prison. There was a serious black out toward the opposition in the media. The president and the government have used all the means of the state for the “yes” campaign, and let’s add to this the fact that the Supreme Election Board (YSK) changed the rules while the voting was going on despite the clear stipulations in the law.

The Foreign Ministry said it found the report biased and prejudiced. But everything took place before the eyes of the people. Everyone who is impartial and without prejudice saw what took place. The OSCE had never issued such reports about previous elections or referendums. 

So does that mean that it was not biased and prejudiced then and has become biased and prejudiced now?

The constitutional changes have been approved and the OSCE has no power to put any sanctions into force.

But there is something we forget; it is the first time since Turkey made a transition to a multi-party system, and that includes the post-military coup periods, that we are faced with such a report. Ever since its inception in 1973, the OSCE monitors, through its observers, elections in North America, Asia, Europe and Russia.

We have witnessed such reports written about countries like Russia and Azerbaijan, where elections have not taken place in the form of a democratic race. After this report, Turkey’s place is next to Russia in the eyes of the world.

Will Turkey be like Russia, Azerbaijan and Belarus, where elections do not take place under fair and democratic conditions?

April/20/2017

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