Turkish democrats are sick of Western politicians, media organizations, authors and editors considering Turkey only from a viewpoint of enmity toward Erdoğan.
This past Sunday, Turkey went through a very important referendum. It was not “Erdoğan” who was voted on in this referendum. Nor was it the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) that Erdoğan founded. In this referendum, it was the 18 article constitutional change proposed by the AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and voted on in Parliament. The importance of this constitutional change is that it deactivates the old style parliamentarianism that continually created political crises and instead set up a new administrative system based on democratic legitimacy with a checks-and-balances mechanism. A “yes” result came in the referendum and Turkey attained its new administrative system.
The new administrative system will come into use in 2019. In the aftermath of this constitutional change, the president will be able to be a member of any political party and become the head of the party when regarded as necessary by the different parties. In practice, this means that Erdoğan will likely soon resume being head of the AK Party. This will mean that both he and the AK Party will become politically stronger.
The “yes” result in the referendum disappointed campaigners for “no” in the West more than the “no” front in Turkey. They clearly took up a position politically and failed. Western actors fluttering for a “no” in the April 16 referendum were just yesterday struggling against the election of Trump. Many media figures and politicians in Europe and the U.S. displayed attitudes against Trump and supported Clinton. But the results were utter defeat for them. The same actors also worked for a “no” result in the referendum concerning the U.K. leaving the European Union. But they also failed at that. The “yes” result barely passed in the referendum and the Brexit process began. I refer to these actors as the Western losers’ club.
Members of the Western losers’ club began to immediately worry about how to turn back the process after the referendum results in Turkey came in, just like what happened after Trump was elected. They created the lie that the election was rigged and began trying to create a political synergy around this lie. Media representatives of the Western losers’ club used similar headlines about the referendum in Turkey from April 17 on. Almost all of them talked about the referendum being rigged and that the “yes” and “no” votes were very close. They showed the observations of members of the European Council, who had clearly led a “no” propaganda campaign, as their reference. They tried to create a perception of doubt about the votes by saying that some ballots did not have the seal of the ballot box board. But the difference between “yes” and “no” votes was around 1.4 million and the number of these ballots did no higher than 10,000. What’s more, these ballots were ones that were said to be appropriate by ballot box boards where the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) members were involved as well. Additionally, as everyone clearly knew, the ballots in question were made from material that cannot be copied with the watermark of the Supreme Board of Elections (YSK). The most interesting factor throughout this whole media campaign was that the decision by the independent and constitutional YSK was reflected as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision. Of course, information showing the CHP and the HDP had previously applied to the YSK for ballots without the seal of the ballot box board be accepted and that the YSK had accepted this was not mentioned.
There was nearly 90 percent participation in the referendum in Turkey. Yes, 90 percent! Yes, the results of the referendum were 51.4 percent “yes” and 48.6 percent “no.” Yes, these are the results. I am leaving aside Merkel and Hollande’s assumption of polarization from these results. This is a result that shows political competition and the quality of democracy in Turkey.
Members of the Western losers’ club hope that the streets of Turkey begin to rise up first, followed by the intervention of the armed forces. This is a futile attempt. I renew my call, again. Accept Turkey’s socio-political reality and the place of President Erdoğan in this reality, and let’s move on…
This article was first published in Daily Sabah on April 22, 2017.