The general elections we held had a very high participation rate of 86.7 percent.
Despite the high election threshold, when we look at the results we can say that the political parties or independent candidates are represented in Parliament more or less in proportion with the votes that they got.
The 86.7 participation rate is one of the very highest in recent Turkish history. The highest participation rate in Turkey was seen in the 1983 elections, which were the first elections after the military coup in 1980, at more than 92.3 percent. The elections at that time were far from being democratic, but in running to the ballot boxes to cast their votes, the citizens of Turkey proved that despite everything, all efforts to prevent them from voting, they loved democracy and were eager to show that they took the elections very seriously.
It is true that other means of participating in politics are not yet well developed and the elections are so far the only way to participate. This is one reason for such a high turnout. If our civil society organizations were better organized, if we knew more peaceful ways to raise our voices about our demands, participation in the elections would not be that high. But at least we know that 86.7 percent of the citizens take politics very seriously and want to have a say in their future.
Another reason for the high turnout lies in the fact that this Parliament will prepare the new constitution that we so desperately need. The citizens acted with this knowledge.
It is very interesting to notice that Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal came to Turkey at the same time. Their visit came at a time when they had differing opinions on the future of the prime minister of Palestine after their reconciliation. Well, they left before finding any solution to that, but they searched for a solution in Turkey. At least we can say that Turkey tried to help them out. In the Middle East, people who are searching for democracy and freedom carry the picture of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and talk about taking Turkey as a model.
Meanwhile, more than 10,000 Syrian citizens are in Turkey as refugees due to the situation in their country. Turkey is urging for reform in Syria and trying to give some advice to the regime in Damascus. Maybe we have already forgotten that we had an EU bid, but it is a fact that Turkey is a regional power; however, it has many problems at home, too.
Nowadays, whoever I talk to, especially foreign diplomats, they are talking about this regional power and its potential to be an example for the region, but not before solving its Kurdish problem, pointing out that with this huge problem, Turkey’s potential will only be realized in a limited way.
But, unfortunately, once more we find ourselves in a vicious cycle that will be difficult to break. Our undemocratic Constitution and laws put restrictions on the will of the people, causing people to boycott Parliament, which is supposed to prepare a new constitution.
The Supreme Election Board (YSK) once more acted in accordance with the Constitution, which gives the YSK the duty to prevent people from entering Parliament if they are not in line with the established state mentality. We can talk about conspiracy theories from sunrise to sunset. We can also claim, like Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Diyarbakır deputy Galip Ensarioğlu did, that there are some dark forces that want to create chaos in the country.
However, the agenda changes from minute to minute in this country and it will be like this for a long time after the recent developments, including the independent candidates backed by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deciding to boycott Parliament and the court’s refusal to send Ergenekon suspects to Parliament. Some experts are saying that the cases are different from each other, not only from the legal point of view but also politically; however, this does not change the basic fact that some very hot days await us and what we have now is just the beginning.
We run to the ballot boxes to make our voice heard, to get a new constitution, and no one claimed that it would be easy. But after all these developments even before the first meeting of the general assembly, the legitimacy of Parliament is starting to be questioned, not because of conspiracies, not because of court decisions, not because of YSK decisions, but because of a giant we are unable to defeat.
This giant is the structure and mentality that refuses to see the differences among the citizens and instead tries to see them as a heterogeneous bulk. This giant is the mentality absorbed not only by each word of the current Constitution but also by some politicians and people who are supposed to implement the Constitution. This mentality does not like freedom and does not trust the people’s choice.
It just proves once more that even replacing the Constitution with a civil and democratic one will not be good enough for us; we also have to beat this mentality and the only way to do that is to stick to principles of freedom and rights. It is obvious that it will not be as easy as going to the ballot box.