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Presidential Election: The Vox Pop

It’s funny how these things turn out. Last week, I asked the blogging community at large what they thought about the upcoming Turkish presidential election. Having got a response from a mighty two people – not to discredit IstanbulTory and yuvakuran, thank you both so very much for writing your thoughts – I went and did what any other self-respecting journalist would do: pinch what people have said elsewhere. Here’s what I found interesting:

“I don’t know who this J. Vincent is,” reads one of my favourite (anonymous) comments, “but it’s not important. There are many things in life that we don’t know anyway – it will do if this isn’t known either.” Not to worry, I’ll be sure to make my introductions over there shortly. The comment goes on: “Does it matter what happens in the election? This country has been ruled by juntaist soldiers, contracted servants, plundering conmen and fascist dogs. What difference will it make for us if the sharia comes in – aren’t we still going to be the ones who lose out?”

“The President won’t be Tayyip,” says IstanbulTory, posting on this blog. “The military/mass media are working to ensure that this doesn’t happen.” Nor, says he, will it be a consensus candidate such as Hikmet Çetin. “It’s more likely to be a fairly obscure AKP member of Parliament whose wife is not veiled. And more importantly someone who will not inflame secular opinion once elected.” Defence minister Vecdi Gönül is fielded as a potential compromise – Abdüllatif Şener is another possibility, perhaps?

Yuvakuran focused more on the election aftermath: “(An AKP president) will certainly push the country with all measures, legislations, appointments towards a new environment as moderate Islamic republic in the region. So all secular forces are to defend the existing Western Democratic system to prevail.”

It’s certainly a bleak outlook. But in all the despair, it seems, there’s a victory for academia: “The Middle East Technical University’s Alumni Association has created a new working group to review the local Presidential election process in detail.” Hooray! “We invite all international interested parties to review the issue and put their intellectual contributions. Also there is practically no application of local penal law if a document is written and released in a foreign language.” You’ll be hearing from me soon, Yuvakıran.

“Just like parties, the president should also be elected by public vote at the same time with general elections,” writes John Gurcam on Yuvakuran’s blog. “The president should also be elected for 4 years to work with the party elected for the same period.”

The Turkish Daily News also got its finger out last week for a bit of comment: “The presidential elections will be a deciding factor in whether the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) remains an influential political actor in the general elections.” Göksel Bozkurt’s piece goes on to outline a number of possible scenarios for the government and opposition. It’s well worth a read, although I would question the claim that President Sezer can unilterally scrap a presidential vote and call an early general election.

The wonderful thing about a vox pop is that there’s no need for a balanced argument. The above is by no means a cross-section of the presidential debate, although it does raise some interesting points about the course of the next few months. Your comments, as ever, are welcome below. Mine will continue in these pages in the days to come.

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