Post-Election is Pre-Election

by Tarık Günersel    /  April 11, 2014  / No comments

In Turkey, elections derailed by power-hungry cats validate Erdoğan’s regime.

Destroyed CHP Vote

An illegally destroyed vote for the leading opposition party, CHP. Photo: Courtesy of Tarik Günersel.

… if there has in fact been an election. Officially, there has been one in Turkey. But neither the pre-election period nor the election process has been fair.

  1. Wor(l)ds in Danger, a<br />
column by Tarik Günersel
  2. Life is words in action, literature is action in words.
  3. Humans are about to destroy their spaceship Earth. Some of them are aware of this and they try to change the course of events. Will they succeed? Will more humans be alarmed and do something?
  4. Literature is vital and translators are messengers of world peace.
  5. Though I shall focus on the literary scene in Turkey and its problems regarding freedom of expression, I shall not omit the other parts of our planet. Today local is global and vice versa.
  6. Tarik Günersel
  7. Tarık Günersel is a poet, playwright, aphorist, librettist and short story writer. He is the president of PEN Turkey and an ex-member of the PEN International Board. He studied English Literature at Istanbul University. A self-exile after the military coup in 1980, he spent four years in Saudi Arabia with his wife Füsun and their daughter Barış, teaching English. A dramaturg at Istanbul City Theater since 1991, he has acted on stage and screen and directed some of his plays. He proposed World Poetry Day in 1997 which was accepted by PEN International and declared by UNESCO as the 21st of March. His translations into Turkish include works by Samuel Beckett, Vaclav Havel and Arthur Miller. His works include The Nightmare of a Labyrinth (mosaic of poems and stories), and How’s your slavery goin’? His Oluşmak (To Become), a “life guide for myself,” includes ideas from world wisdom of the past four millennia. He has recently initiated the Earth Civilization Project with the support of several intellectuals from various parts of the planet.

Pre-election
Systematic misuse of governmental power and attempts to block the opposition had already cast a shadow on the country’s democratic process. For one, TRT, Radio and TV of Turkey, should be autonomous. It has not been for many years. Instead it’s used by the AK Party Government almost unilaterally.

After the December 17 corruption crackdown and the release of the phone recordings related to the scandal, Erdoğan acted in his usual hardline strategy and blamed the Fethullah Gülen movement. But once upon a time, Gülen and Erdoğan were allies—they had been for years—apparently preparing weapons for possible times of conflict.

Unable to control to whole world, PM Erdoğan banned Twitter and Youtube in Turkey. If Facebook is still available, it may be for two reasons: The AK Party government may be refraining from receiving more negative internal and international reactions. But this is unlikely, given that PM Erdoğan does whatever he wants to do. So, while banning Facebook will come as no surprise, it’s still a platform where you can see who opposes you. This makes it a good fishing pool, some of his advisors may have told him.

PEN Int’l and English PEN
… led a wonderful critique after Twitter and YouTube were banned, drawing attention to some of the key issues in relation to the non-democratization (rather: anti-democratization) of Turkey. The statement was excellent and timely.

Post-Election Photo on the Balcony
PM Erdoğan, his wife Emine Erdoğan, their son Bilal, and their daughter Sümeyye appeared on the balcony as a sign of solidarity against the corruption accusations that were based on recorded phone conversations. Erdoğan believes that a harsh offense is the best defense. Provocation is “useful,” and truth and justice hardly play a role.

Merely Cats?
Numerous places in Turkey suffered from power outages as it came time to count the votes. The same thing happened (or was planned to happen) in the previous elections. This time a minister came forth and announced that it was a cat (or cats) that led to the power outages while the votes were being counted. Some Western media outlets like the BBC thought this announcement was a joke for April Fool’s Day. Unfortunately, the minister seriously expected people to believe him.

The next day Osman Baydemir, the Kurdish ex-mayor of Diyarbakır, who ran for mayor of Şanlıurfa in this election, but was not elected, commented: “The electricity was cut several times on election day by animals with two feet. The election was not held properly.” (Cumhuriyet, 2 April 2014)

In a Nutshell
Erdoğan lost 2.5 millon votes. The municipal elections in Turkey on March 30, 2014 will be remembered both as a scandal for which PM Erdoğan’s government is responsible (by the opposition) and a great success (by the AK Party).

Now a tougher period has begun. PM Erdoğan’s despotic measures have been fruitful for him: This most recent outcome is a sign of sufficient support, which ironically makes the situation worse in terms of democracy and freedom of expression.

As for the main opposition party, CHP, the alignment with the Fethullah Gülen movement seems to have been opportunistic and counterproductive. Gülen is an Islamicist whose movement does not seem to be innocent or praiseworthy in terms of its values of democratization. Don’t let a soft smile or sentimental tears fool you. Islamodespotism has plenty of masks.

Fortunately, the Constitutional Court has recently overruled the Twitter and Youtube bans. Erdoğan said he did not respect the court verdict and called it “anti-national.” The head of the Constitutional Court, Haşim Kılıç, wisely and fiercely replied: “Not anti-national but universal.”

“Post-election is pre-election,” whispers a cat, now experienced in a bizarre election process: “Time to think and act better.”

About the Author

Tarık Günersel is a poet, playwright, aphorist, librettist and short story writer. He is the president of PEN Turkey and an ex-member of the PEN International Board. He studied English Literature at Istanbul University. A self-exile after the military coup in 1980, he spent four years in Saudi Arabia with his wife Füsun and their daughter Barış, teaching English. A dramaturg at Istanbul City Theater since 1991, he has acted on stage and screen and directed some of his plays. He proposed World Poetry Day in 1997 which was accepted by PEN International and declared by UNESCO as the 21st of March. His translations into Turkish include works by Samuel Beckett, Vaclav Havel and Arthur Miller. His works include The Nightmare of a Labyrinth (mosaic of poems and stories), and How’s your slavery goin’? His Oluşmak (To Become), a “life guide for myself,” includes ideas from world wisdom of the past four millennia. He has recently initiated the Earth Civilization Project with the support of several intellectuals from various parts of the planet.

View all articles by Tarık Günersel

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