Do you remember 100 meters men world record holder Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt? I am pretty sure you do. During his reign, he had dominated the field so much that he had used to pound his chest even 20m to go before the finish line and to zip past seemingly effortlessly through it with his arms wide open as if asking to himself and us “why worry when I am already number one?” Many of us before their TV screens used to huff and puff that if he had pulled his act together he would have been able to better his own world record. 

Usain Bolt with his signature wide open arms finish.

More or less since 2002, Tayyip Erdoğan did the same in all election races. Even today, even the worst polls show him as the most popular leader with a handsome low 3O percents lead, the most rosy ones still going up to over 50 percents. Why then Mr. Erdoğan pushes so hard an open door?Comparisons with the likes of the Central Asian or the Middle Eastern dictators garnering always over 90 percent of the votes did not hold the ground at least for a long while. As in my humble opinion it is also unfair and lazy to cite Trump in the same breath as Putin and Xi.  

For a brief moment on June 7, 2015 the opposition believed clinching a partial yet significant victory just to see all hell breaking loose right afterwards. The times got tough and tougher while they were outwitted and outgunned. Turkish citizens are not known for their appetite neither in taking part in the so-called democratic process nor taking to the streets to resist. Another month of June in 2013 remained a vivid exception. But Turks break records too every election day by lining up in masses to cast their ballots. Unfortunately, as republican institutions are being hollowed from within, the once untouchable High Electoral Committee too lost most of its credibility in the meantime. In our time, the democratic opposition is left with the social media and professional chambers as the last bastions of civil society. Hence, these too are coming under serious attack.  

Nowadays a silver lining again timidly seems to appear beyond the dark clouds to stem the political erosion. Dr.Pınar Dinç showed courage by taking to Twitter to publicly share her own #MeToo harassment that she suffered since years at the hands of a more senior Turkish academician at Lund University in Sweden where she currently works. Many other followed suit right after. Then, women from different ages and walks of life made a wise and poignant mockery of traditional Turkish “machismo” by turning popular sayings up-side down. The following day, users spontaneously did the same this time by converting discriminatory sayings about the Kurds to Turks. The brutal killing of George Floyd came as a wake-up call to many that racism, albeit in a different form, exists here in Turkey too.  

It is obvious that the voters and especially the first time voters not only look for fresh political formations but also for a brand new political lexicon to express their dissatisfaction with the system. Almost a century after the foundation of the republic the struggle between fake traditions and real progress is still under way. This nation looks for its identity. Perhaps, it is time for the opposition to start re-thinking the republic and switch priority from rights and freedoms to administration and social contract. In this month of June 2020 it will not be way off-the-mark to claim that Junes as in 2013 or in 2015 were not one-off singular events.   

Bold Pilot (R.I.P.) takes the lead by a nose against Galtee at the finish line in 1996

Bold Pilot too was a champion like Husain Bolt. The slight difference was that he was a horse not a human being. In 1996, during the International Bosphorus Cup Race he competed against his German rival Galtee. He was a capricious champion who disliked to run on rainy days. That day the rain had stopped just before the race and the turf was muddy. Yet Bold Pilot, confirming his winning character, managed to respond to Galtee in the last few meters and put his nose through the finish line. Many years later Bold Pilot passed away in his peaceful retirement still owned by the same distinguished Mr. Özdemir Atman who famously replied when asked about the prospects of selling Bold Pilot, “well you can offer me the Central Bank for all you want but I will never exchange him for any sum of gold or money.” 

TV programmer Mr. Enver Arslan, who had witnessed live most of Bold Pilot’s victories, recalls how hearing the news of his demise through his car radio pulled over and broke into tears as if he had lost a cherished relative. Bold Pilot is irreplaceable in the memories of many. A true champion, he had won the hearts and minds of the people not with his string of victories but with his attitude in the paddock as well as his resilient character of never accepting defeat. That horse in those dark nineties kind of embodied an audacity of hope. That it is never over until it’s over. That the home stretch is not the same as the march to the scaffold. The opposition in Turkey is in desperate need of not a bolt but a bold pilot. And, make no mistake, that is the reason why the victor of the June 7, 2015 elections Mr. Selahattin Demirtaş is in prison since November 4 of 1996.