TDN-ee, Commentaries& Analysis, August 26, 1998

26 August 1998, Copyright � Turkish Daily News 

These are still extraordinary times

Editorial by Ilnur Cevik

Many people we talked to on Tuesday -- from leading politicians to serious political observers -- were stunned to read how President Suleyman Demirel defined the restrictions and political variables in Turkey in an interview with a mass circulation daily. They felt that under these circumstances there was no need to hold "free" elections as Turkey remained under a restrictive regime...

President Demirel clearly stated the realities of Turkey and brought people to their senses. After all, there were too many people who thought they were living in a democracy.

As we have stated numerous times before, we are living through an extraordinary period where the rules of the game are clear and those who do not obey them will be eliminated.

Many foreigners have difficulty in understanding what the president usually says so we will do some explanation for their benefit.

Demirel told the interviewer, "If in the upcoming elections people start creating enmity against the military and if they try to exploit religion for religious purposes then the state will act again... World public opinion is secondary. My well-being has priority. We cannot accept chaos." In simple English this means, "If the True Path Party (DYP) and its leader Tansu Ciller continue to attack the military, if the moderate pro-Islamic Virtue Party (FP) tries to exploit religion for political goals like the banned Welfare Party led by Necmettin Erbakan, then the establishment led by the military will do away with them. What the international public opinion feels about the lack of democracy in Turkey is secondary."

Demirel also said, "We have to steer the voters in the next elections. The political system will do this. Everyone should unite around the democratic and secular republic. They have to vote for stability." The explanation of this is, "people should not vote for the pro-religious parties. They should vote for the parties that defend the status quo."

Demirel also asks, "Will the proposed coalition between the Virtue Party and the DYP be any different than the ousted coalition between the banned Welfare Party and the DYP?" which means, "the Virtue Party is simply the continuation of the Welfare and thus should not be trusted despite its claims of being moderate and pro-secular."

Demirel says, "There are still nine months to go before the elections. However, the public opinion polls seem to be hopeless" which means "the DYP and the Virtue are still too popular and if elections are held this will mean they will win more votes than the others and that is bad for the system."

So Demirel has clearly shown that the outcome of the elections may not at all be satisfactory for him and the establishment in Turkey. Then we should not have polls and we should also properly define the current system which is clearly not a western style democracy...

Maybe someday Turkey will undergo a dramatic transformation which will force it to become a real democracy. Then we can talk about free and meaningful elections and a representative Parliament which will be the sole supreme power.