We are leaving behind yet another election process with its campaigns, dynamism, discussions, tensions and interesting dialogues. When I was writing this column the general results of Turkey’s local elections were not yet clear, so I couldn’t comment. That is why, if I make any comment on the points which requires no caution at all, I can say that, regardless of the outcome, Turkish democracy won another victory against undemocratic powers.
Think of it this way: Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and Turkey’s president, the leader of the people, did not have a moment’s rest. President Erdoğan worked harder than anyone, tried to express himself more than anyone, and tried to present his projects and answer his people.
Most certainly, even this demonstrates that the sentiments of dictatorship and authoritarianism were for nothing. Otherwise, Erdoğan would get the results through his own means anyway and would lay back in his chair and wait for the results he ordered. However he worked until the last minute, ran from one rally to another and asked people to vote for his party. Naturally, during the campaigning process, surveys were conducted to determine the preferences of the people. Many comments were made about the candidates and their politics. All these comments came to an end with the decision of the people. We have the most comprehensive, most realistic, and the most meaningful survey in our hands: the election results.
This survey doesn’t show the tendencies for the next elections. But it bears messages to all parties regarding the elections we just had. The people are giving comprehensive messages to the parties, candidates and leaders. Now it is time to contemplate these messages and learn the necessary lessons from them.
The strongest evaluation of AK Party’s 17 years of governance and its 25 to 30 years-long experience in municipalities is hidden in these messages. We still need to understand that the people not only evaluated the services they are going to receive but also the ability of those people to represent them. The notion of “the mayorship of the hearts” declared by our president for these elections has been in this tune. We will see that, with this election-- it doesn’t matter how much they worked-- if candidates didn’t appeal to the hearts of the people, then they won’t pass this test.
During the election process, I have given many interviews to international TV channels, especially from the Arab world, about Turkey’s experience of local elections. I don’t remember if there was such interest before, but I have discovered huge interest in the importance Turkey attaches to local elections. It was obvious that they were not used to such elections for the local administrations at all.
Unfortunately, the local administrators in most Arab countries are appointed by the center. You all know what kinds of elections are held for the governments. In an environment where the number of votes they desire are ordered and dictators get over 90 percent of the votes with an extremely low voter turnout, how can we expect them to attach importance to the local elections?
To tell the truth, for the first time, these countries are closely following the local elections in Turkey and, with this realization, they are trying to understand that this as an important element of the proverbial “Turkey model”.
Of course, democracy starts from within. The fact that local elections were held in a festival-like atmosphere and that almost the entire country participated in this festival shows the integrity of the people and the state in another way.
Exactly at this point, I must say that I saw surprised faces when they heard that AK Party, which has been ruling the country for 17 years, is running for the elections on equal terms. They asked many times “So what, is there a possibility that opposition parties can actually take some municipalities from AK Party? And if they take them over, will AK Party actually hand them over?”
Of course, my answer was more meaningful and very much demonstrated the democratic maturity of Turkey:
“Of course, whether AK Party or opposition parties wins, it will be the victory of Turkish democracy, and AK Party will also evaluate the results and respect the decision of the people, who are the best decision-makers. If such a circumstance comes to pass, AK Party will be self-critical and will have no other choice to better prepare for the next elections.”
Around the time I wrote the last words of this column, the results become clearer in Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia. Until now in Şırnak and Hakkari, the strongholds of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), have given strong signs of change in favor of the AK party. At the same time, similar trends were seen in Siirt, Ağrı, Mardin, Diyarbakır and other cities in these regions. With these results we have obviously come a long way on service politics and identity politics.
Regardless of the results of the elections, it provides opportunities for the reformation of Turkey, and the approval of fresh policies with the support and guidance of the people. All in all, elections are opportunities to settle social tensions and discussions under the will of the people.
No matter what, I pray that the results of the elections will bring prosperity to our country, our people, and to the Muslim world.