Turkey’s political life is largely focused on the presidential elections to be held in 2023. Several signs point out to this, including polls that are published every day and overt and covert negotiations within the opposition regarding their presidential candidate. The governing alliance is also seeking to alter the election law and shape the election results.
I’d like to discuss the significance of this election, which is widely regarded as a decisive moment that will determine the future of millions of people who now suffer from the oppression of the regime. The future of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) 20-year-long one-party rule depends on this election. This regime has maintained itself by forming coalitions with shadow forces such as the Gülenist movement that had no political legitimacy.
First of all, we know from the 2017 referendum and the Istanbul elections in March 2019 that the ruling alliance might attempt to interfere and shape the outcome of the elections. They’re now working to this end by modifying the electoral laws and the laws governing political parties. In 2017, two million unsealed votes were considered valid, although it was illegal. In 2019, they also tried to keep their hands on the municipality of Istanbul though they had lost the vote.
While President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has likely learned his lesson from those experiences, his determination to cling to power is unwavering.
History offers countless examples of long-lasting authoritarian governments violating the rules of democracy. In recent times, we all followed Donald Trump’s failed attempt to breach the rules of democracy in the U.S., where the rule of law has been applied continuously since the 18th century.
Some argue this issue should not be discussed as public discussions of the prospect that the AKP will refuse to step down will cause despair in the electorate and have a negative effect on the elections. This approach is flawed. Not only will discussing this issue not encourage this rhetoric that the AKP will refuse to step down, but rather, it calls for efforts to force the ruling coalition to step down. On the part of the electorate as well as the opposition forces. Second, the public is not naïve. They very well know who gets handcuffs and diamonds from the government.
What is more, - considering the elections will take place normally - we ought to discuss the post-election transition period. Will it be possible to re-introduce academic freedom in universities when the President directly appoints rectors using a state of emergency decree? Will an independent judicial order be established by the partisan judges who keep Osman Kavala, Selahattin Demirtaş in jail by flouting the universal principles of law and the binding decisions of Turkey’s legal system?
Or, will it be established with prosecutors who have launched career paths for themselves through the indictment they prepared against those who signed the “Academics for Peace” petition?
Will the unearned and unfair profits of the gang of five [contractors] be confiscated?
What about the damage they have wrought on the land and water of this country?
Will secularism be explained and taught in religious high schools (Imam Hatip Schools) that have sprouted across the country?
Will Ali Erbaş, the Head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), who has another four more years in office before his term ends, be asked to carry out prayers on secularism?
Following a regime that has provoked a confrontational situation on almost every issue and every situation, how will social and political peace be achieved? What will be done especially regarding the Kurdish issue?
The justice in question here is the justice of a transitional period. It will be a process when justice will be served for those injustices suffered by millions of people under the current regime and ensure reconciliation.
If we are going to talk about Turkey's transition to democracy, we need to talk about the post-AKP era. If we are going to talk about the post-AKP era, we have to talk about regime change in Turkey, the state of emergency and the current order that supports the continuation of the regime change.
Turkey has experienced a reverse transition period. During this reverse transition period, the most basic democratic rules of governance, especially constitutional guarantees, were lifted. In this period, an order was established serving the interests of the government and the financial greed of a small circle. If we are going to talk about the transition to democracy, what needs to be discussed today is how to put an end to the current order before the elections.