Turkey: One More Step Away From Democracy

Note: This interview was originally published in French in Rouge&Vert No.377.

S.E. is a member of the RAGA network, whose international meeting Les Alternatifs co-organized. S. was involved in the Gezi struggle. He offers his analysis of the Turkish municipal elections. A very pessimistic vision. He admits: While his characterization of the regime's evolution seems to be broadly shared by the Turkish left, it does not appear to be stated in any official position of the organization. As if the Turkish left feared to formulate what he sees; that Turkey not be a parliamentary democracy anymore.

Rouge&Vert: Do the results of Turkish elections draw away big changes in the political scene?

S.E. : In 2011, Selda Canan and I collaborated in an article on the general election results in Turkey: “Erdoğan did not let anyone else interfere with his own election campaign. No one saw any candidate of AKP during the campaign. From east to west, from north to south, from TV channels to newspapers, it was only Erdoğan himself who was running the election campaign of AKP. … This phenomenon will probably continue in larger scales while Erdoğan centralizes all the political power in his person.” (Rouge&Vert No. 328, page 10)

Our prediction came true. It is well necessary to understand it before leaning over the official results of these elections: They did not take place years the frame of a classical representative democracy but in a country toppling over towards a regime of fascist nature.

R&V: Talking of “fascism”, it's a bit too strong, isn't it?

S.E.: And so I assert: If one considers what a fascist regime could possibly be in a NATO country under American control, there is plenty of evidence that Turkey corresponds to this definition:
  • The state cannot be separated from the government and the government cannot be separated from its leader.
  • All check-and-balance mechanisms of the regime are annulled (including laws and constitution).
  • The power rules by “at the moment” orders.
  • All opposition is criminalized.
  • The Prime Minister allocates and reallocates high ranking bureaucrats according to his wish.
  • At least 80% of media is controlled by the government.
  • Erdoğan personally phones TV channels to change contents of news.
  • Twitter and Youtube were banned during the elections.

R&V: This does not change the fact that AKP earned elections.

S.E: When I started by analysis of the election results as those in a fascistic state, I mean that there is no correlation between the votes and the official results.

  • During the counting of votes, there were power cuts in 40 provinces ! Thousands of reports came from all over the country, proving frauds and miscounts.
  • There is abunant evidence that the opposition party candidate won in Ankara, while official results declare AKP victorous. The election board overruled all complaints and objections. There is a good amount of evidence for the same situation in Istanbul and several other big cities.
  • In Agri, the Kurdish party BDP won by a slight difference with AKP. AKP objected. The election board agreed to make a recount. BDP won. AKP objected again. The board agreed to make a recount. BDP won. AKP objected again. The board agreed to make a recount. BDP won. … For exactly 15 times ! 15 times, AKP acquired the re-count of the votes, and finally they decided to cancel the elections, and repeat it in June!
  • In the meanwhile, Erdogan gave a speech with his family (in a balcony!) before the counting finished. He declared that they are victorious.
  • Erdoğan made a speech (appearing with family on a balcony!) to announce his victory, much before the official declaration of the results.

Once again: We are talking about a country, where a single person controls the state apparatus – as much as it is theoretically allowed in a NATO country between Middle East, EU and Russia.

Erdoğan is still in power, not because the people consented to his power. Erdogan is in power, because imperialism has been trying since the June Uprising to find an alternative, and they couldn't... yet.

We should intensify the struggle so that Erdoğan falls, not because imperialism finds an alternative, but because the people continue the impressive revolt initiated last summer in Gezi Park.

R&V: Precisely: Is there any electoral result of the Gezi movement?

S.E.: No, as Gezi did not enter into elections. But also yes, because it weakened AKP, which lost its hegemony and hence could not afford to have free elections. Gezi shifted up the gears of class struggle.

AKP responded by open fascism (instead of the so-called “Mild Islamism” rhetorics... Does anyone even remember that?). It is now our turn to catch up and fight back.

R&V: As for official results, in concrete terms?

S.E.: To understand well its validity, it is necessary to compare the following images. Figure 1 gives official results and Figure 2 gives the list of power cuts during the counting of the votes. There is also this amazing Figure 3, where you can see Turkish citizens securing the votes in the middle of "power cuts" and “server problems” against fraud.
Figure 1: Official results

Figure 2: Power cuts during the counting of votes
Figure 3: Citizens trying to secure the votes, for 2 days.

R&V: How can you explain that the scandals of the government members did not affect the results for AKP?

S.E.: It is simply that the majority of the media is pro-AKP, and they either completely ignore or underrate these affairs. AKP voters have no access to this information.

R&V: What about the left and the Kurdish results ?

S.E.: Left parties did not increase their votes. Leftist voters rather chose to have a “useful vote” for the main opposition party, to beat AKP. On paper, an allied opposition does get higher results than AKP. This is certain. However, it seems that people did not realize that a fascist government cannot be overthrown via electoral alliances, or transitional methods for that matter.

Interview by M. Colloghan