A post-election world without Erdogan
President Erdogan has asked for us to give him one year to reconstruct the earthquake-hit areas of the country.
The last general elections had been held on June 24, 2018. This means that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) must hand over the authority to “govern,” which they had been given by the public for a fixed amount of time, by June 24, 2023 at the latest. The election can be postponed only if a war occurs. This is what the Constitution states. An election can be brought forward but it cannot be postponed.
Even Bulent Arinc, the former Speaker of the Parliament, who first pushed the “we must postpone the election” rhetoric was forced to accept that there is no alternative except to change the Constitution.
That being said, will an election up until that date be feasible, considering the physical conditions and the extent of the destruction? The cities that had been home to millions of people turned to rubble. Millions of others were internally displaced. Residences, electoral districts, electoral registers, the number of parliament members that should be determined based on a city’s population, the integrity of the ballot boxes, the counting of the votes, et cetera.
Bulent Arinc prophesies that this situation would “cause chaos.”
Even if they do not have the constitutional authority, the AKP and MHP will continue to govern the country, to rebuild the ten destroyed cities, to bring us closer to a safe election, is that so?
How dare they!
Sir, why should there be “chaos?”
With what law will a clique that has completed its political life, that has even lost its legitimacy, and which will most probably be obliterated in these elections, oversee the reconstruction of the region?
With what authority will it draw on all the resources of the state or supervise the management of the fundraised money?
The most sectarian and racist coalition in history is in question. We have collapsed due to corruption and thievery. We have collapsed due to a lack of meritocracy and a state of lawlessness. There are no institutions left to speak of in the nation.
For reconstruction, we need civil society organizations, scientists, urban planners, local authorities, universities, established institutions, and some common sense. This regime keeps the best of those in prison or appoints government trustees to their positions. Those on the outside are battling the lawsuits filed against them, while a number of them still do not have passports.
For reconstruction, we need bottom-up organization, transparency, a system of checks and balances, a parliament, some debate, and to stand clear of profiteering.
Is this the principles by which they will manage the reconstruction for a year?
Minister of Religious Affairs Ali Erbas, with a sword in one hand, accompanied by the bulldozers of the “gang of five,”* is going to reconstruct Hatay, the cradle of civilizations, is that right?
Will there not be chaos then? You really cannot give up on looking at everything through the lens of “God’s gift,” can you?
There are four months ahead of us. We will consider together whether there are sufficient resources to make the official election date.
Let us say that physical conditions and the destruction block the election from being held. The cities that had been home to millions of people turned to rubble. Millions of others were internally displaced. Residences, electoral districts, electoral registers, the number of parliament members that should be determined based on a city’s population, the integrity of the ballot boxes, the counting of the votes, et cetera.
In that case, we can pass a temporary amendment to the Constitution. We can establish a “national” commission with limited authority that can oversee the process of earthquake recovery and preparing for safe elections. The commission can be formed of equal representation from all the political parties and qualified persons with the necessary background. Erdogan and the AKP can hand over their power to this “above politics” commission. Then, as soon as conditions allow, general elections can be held.
The parties that win can reestablish the country with the authority given to them by the public.
Why does this possibility not occur to you, dear Arinc?
We will not surrender a moment of our future quite so easily to an illegitimate and corrupt regime. The latest date for an election is June 24, 2023. After that, legitimate authority comes to an end.
After all, to have Erdogan retain his seat in every scenario is not a verse from God’s book, is it?**
I say, it might be best for you to accustom yourselves to scenarios that do not include him…
* The “gang of five” refers to five businesses (Cengiz Holding, Kalyon Construction, Kolin Construction, Limak Holding, and MNG Holding) that have particularly benefited from government tenders and maintain close ties to the state. Their name comes from the opposition parties, who allege that they are corrupt.
** AKP’s Bulent Arinc has implied that the constitution is not so binding, as its articles are not “sacred texts” and that there is no “verse from God” that says an election cannot be postponed unless in case of war, as per the constitution.
*Hayko Bagdat was born in Istanbul in 1976, as the fourth child of an ethnic Greek mother and an Armenian father. After attending the Armenian schools Esayan and Mkhitaryan, he began studying history at Istanbul University in 1994. Due to the unexpected death of his father, he was unable to complete his studies. He began his journalism career in 2002 with a program on a radio station covering minority issues for the first time in Turkey, and worked as a journalist, columnist and commentator for Turkey's mainstream media. In 2007, Bagdat was among the founders of the "Friends of Hrant" group, which was formed after the murder of journalist Hrant Dink and that continues its search for justice. Bagdat's first book on being an Armenian and 'the other' in Turkey, Salyangoz (Snail) was published in 2014, his second book, Gollik, in 2015, and his third book, Kurtulus Cok Bozuldu, in 2016. His one-man stage performance "Salyangoz," based on his book, thrilled audiences in many cities in Turkey in 2016 and was subsequently acclaimed with tours all over the world. In 2017, Bagdat moved to Germany and continues to work as a journalist and producer in Berlin.