After his heartbreaking defeat by Erdogan, Ince gave this speech during a press conference that will echo in many people’s heads for a long time: “To Erdogan, please from now on stop acting like the general president of AKP. Become the president of 81 million people, put your arms around all people”. Ince continued, “I recommend you to use my slogan: The president of all. Become the president of all, from now on. End this tension that this nation is experiencing, put your arms around this nation, hug all of them.” He, then subtly mentioned his disappointment of what was to come for Turkey, “If I were elected, that’s what I was going to do.” Ince continued, “I was ready to put my arms around the AKP supporters, as well as the nation as a whole. Now, that’s what I expect from Erdogan”.
Early Sunday morning, I got into my car, much like rest of the Turkish citizens, and drove off to my hometown to cast my vote, with a different kind of hope that I never had before. Muharrem Ince the presidential candidate that came out of the much passive Republican People’s Party (CHP), visited every inch of this beautiful yet hopeless country just under 51 days. Kids all around the nation sang his campaign song, his rallies pulled all time records for CHP, and I, for once, thought I could live here, in peace. The whole campaign was based on love, unlike Erdogan whose, words could only sound like hatred. Above all, Ince knew how to smile, and I saw, for once, that many people believed, like the New York Times article said, he was “the man who could topple Erdogan”.
The story is simple: Muharrem Ince became the father that loved his two children so dearly and equally. The two children just couldn’t listen to each other over their differences, and he tried to teach them how to love. But, my guess is, it wasn’t quite the right time.
Ince spent the day in the YSK building, vowed to protect the votes of the nation from AKP’s illegal games that Turkey faced every single election since Turkey became a toy in Erdogan’s hands, in 2002 (Erdogan’s first win for his party AKP to have 365 MPs at the parliament). Once the clock hit about 9:30 pm, the media started airing the data from AA (Anadolu Agency), Ince warned the nation about the expected ballot manipulations. He was right, AKP started off strong with a high percentage, then landed on a 52.5% win, successfully playing with our feelings. İnce finished off with 30.68% breaking the record for a candidate of his party, CHP.
We were all aware of the extra ballots that have been given to people in exchange of a good amount of “pocket money”, the threats people received before entering the secured-voting area, and the home supplies they were provided to keep this economy that enables increasing poverty for another 5 years. An older lady I talked to right after elections said these words: “I prayed for a long time, I went to the ballots and I was praying on my way there. I was scared, I just hit Erdogan for the presidency”. This is just the pure feeling of oppression brought to many by something we cannot call democracy, anymore.
The general elections contained the parliamentary elections, with AKP having the majority of seats with the help of its ally, MHP (AKP; 295 MPs, MHP, 49 MPs). Having over 300 MPs in the parliament, AKP secured the new constitution that was expected to run due to the referendum that was passed just over a year ago, in April 2017.
Erdogan now holds a dangerous amount of power, given to him by a scared, poor, and unaware nation. The president is able to directly appoint public officials, intervene in Turkey’s legal system at all costs, and declare a state of emergency whenever he finds suitable (Turkey is in a state of emergency since the coup of July 15, 2016). Moreover, the Turkish council is now unable to detect the MPs, unable to state verbal questions or receive information from the prime minister nor the MPS, and finally, the vote of confidence from the council is permanently taken out of the regimen.
Looking at this picture the Turkish nation voluntarily drew, I expected to be hopeless, scared and full of hatred to those who dragged our country under Erdogan’s presidency, once again.
The next day after I heard Muharrem Ince’s words at the press conference, I wasn’t any of that. He was the light that I could still trust within the familiar yet unbearable darkness. This time, it was bearable. Ince said, “We destroyed the dam of 30%, we can do the same for 50%. I am right here. If this nation tells me to walk in front of them, I am ready”. And millions whispered, “So, are we”.