‘Parallel state’ and ‘theft of national will’


Date posted: January 30, 2014


The recent developments have demystified the millions of people living Turkey who have long been deceived by lies about the country being an “advanced democracy” and a “strong economy.” But the “parallel state” and the “theft of the national will” are still here. But take it easy! Do not be easily concerned! Just bear with me to see if I am saying the same thing as the inventors of the parallel state and theft-of-the-national-will arguments….

Legitimacy is what distinguishes a state as an organizational form from crime syndicates, interest groups and terrorist organizations. And what endows the state with legitimacy in democratic regimes in the first instance is that the will that governs the state apparatus is the manifestation of national will. The second factor for legitimacy is that this will that is brought to power by the public must rely on laws and stick to fair administration of justice in all of its acts and actions. Now, let us analyze the recent incidents in our country from this perspective.

As everyone knows, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been acting with the motto “Offense is the best form of defense” since the eruption of the biggest corruption scandal in the history of the Turkish Republic on Dec. 17, 2013. He perceives the Hizmet movement — which has never engaged in any criminal or illegitimate act so far — as the actor behind the graft investigations and accuses the members of this movement as running a “parallel state,” i.e., a state within the state.

Oddly enough, about one-and-a-half months have passed since he spouted the “parallel state” lie so as to hurt millions of people, but has failed to produce any concrete evidence about these allegations or kick off any judicial investigation into them. In spite of this, Prime Minister Erdoğan and senior government officials continue to parrot the parallel state slander with an ever-increasing intensity on every TV program or rally they attend or in every statement that they make. Moreover, they do not just stop at this unfair, unfounded, empty and vulgar slander, but also move on to accuse the volunteers of this large civil society movement having education-centered facilities in 160 countries around the world of being members of a “gang” or a “crime syndicate.” Apparently, they didn’t just settle for this slanderous accusation and proceeded to hurl the lowliest accusation at the world’s most humanitarian and most peaceful civil society volunteers, i.e., likening them to the “Hashashin.” These accusations and slanders will definitely have certain short-term and long-term consequences. I hope the ruling party and its close circles which have allegedly indulged in corruption and theft up to their ears will not be happy with the results of the first election.

As I noted above, a state’s essential characteristic is its democratic legitimacy and the compliance of its acts with the substantive law. There is not a single piece of concrete evidence indicating that prosecutors and police officers had acted in contravention of laws and regulations in the investigation into the corruption claims that implicated some former Cabinet members and their sons. However, these public officials who performed their lawful duties in full compliance with the principles of transparency, accountability and equality — which are fundamental characteristics of the regimes that uphold the rule of law — were recklessly accused by the prime minister and his cronies of being the “parallel state.” While those who fulfill their lawful and democratic duties do not indulge in unlawful or arbitrary acts, there is a ton of evidence showing that the government has been acting arbitrarily, lawfully and illegitimately for the last one-and-a-half months.

Now, the first question: who can claim that the prosecutors, judges and police chiefs who acted within the framework of laws, who fulfilled their responsibilities as defined by laws and who rely on the law to perform their duties are actually part of the “parallel state”?

The second and more scandalous question is: If a political party which was democratically elected to office completely ignores the principle of the separation of powers — a fundamental characteristic of a democratic regime — and disrupts the checks and balances mechanisms of a legitimate democratic system; if it acts in complete disregard of rules, laws, norms, ethics and conventions; if it violates the principle of presuming innocence with slanders such as “parallel state,” “gang” and “Hashashin,” and “dens” and subjects thousands of police officers, public servants and hundreds of members of the judiciary to an unprecedented spree of extrajudicial treatment; and if it resorts to brute force in a manner comparable only to unlawful fiefdoms of the Middle Ages and uses unlawful and vulgar methods to cover up corruption, bribery and theft investigations and obscure evidence, doesn’t this party then deserve to be referred to as the “parallel state”?

If laws and democratic rules are what make a state a legitimate democratic one, who deserves to be labeled the “parallel state”? Those who act in compliance with the laws — which constitute the user’s guide or even the spirit of the organs of this state, or those who act outside the legitimate legal framework by abiding by the controversial religious “endorsements” or fatwas? In my opinion, the answer to this critical question is quite clear. How you answer it is entirely up to you.

Moreover, Prime Minister Erdoğan opts to define the graft investigation — which some of his relatives, some members of his government and some bureaucrats close to him are implicated in corruption, fraud, irregularity, favoritism, bribery and theft — as a coup attempt against his government. Furthermore, he asks, “Do you know what real theft is?” and answers, “It is the theft of the national will.” In recent weeks, Erdoğan has parroted this rhetoric more frequently. Apparently, he deeply believes in this rhetoric… You may be surprised once again, but the prime minister is right in this rhetoric. Indeed, he closely knows who those thieves who have “stolen the national will” are. Let me explain:

The prime minister has persistently boosted the electoral support for his party in every election he has entered. Fulfilling the promises he made in his party’s program has certainly played a great role in this success. Many people from different walks of life have lent support to these democratization reforms. My new question is: To what extent did Prime Minister Erdoğan fulfill the promises he made during the last election rallies? Is he occupied with fulfilling his election manifesto promises or is he obsessed with the diametrically opposite of these promises?

For instance, did Prime Minister Erdoğan tell us in the run-up to the parliamentary elections of June 12, 2011 that he intends to make the high judiciary — which had been democratized with the constitutional amendments endorsed with the referendum held on Sept. 12, 2010 — more lawless and more anti-democratic? What did he promise about transparency, accountability? Did he say that these notions do not go well with Turkey and that he would disable all sorts of supervision and review mechanisms, including the Court of Accounts? Did anyone remember him promising to quickly amend the match-fixing law — which had been amended only six months ago — in order to save his relatives who would be punished under the same law? Did he ever talk about introducing the 4+4+4 system in education or shuttering prep schools? Did he make promises about rapidly and frequently amending the public procurement law in order to award contracts to pro-government businessmen? Did he signal that he would introduce radical reductions in penalties for violations of corruption and irregularities in public procurement tenders? Do you remember him ever promising to disregard checks and balances and render the judiciary dysfunctional and turn the state into an authoritarian clan state with is arbitrary decisions? Did he say that he would abandon the substantive law that is binding for everyone and adopt, instead, controversial religious fatwas? What did he do to fulfill his much-advertised promise to draft a democratic constitution?

Perhaps, the easiest thing we can do nowadays is to make a list of the things Erdoğan had promised to do before the elections and the things he didn’t promise, but is trying to do with full might and main. He promises more democracy, more rule of law, more freedoms, more transparency and accountability, a new constitution and EU harmonization before the elections. But he runs after authoritarian and arbitrary governance methods and anachronistic ambitions after the elections. So tell me, for God’s sake, who is the one stealing and deceiving the national will?

Source: Todays Zaman , January 30, 2014

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