By Ekrem Dumanlı, Today's Zaman
Why Gül didn't (couldn't have) withdraw(n) his candidacy
The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has made its final decision and nominated Abdullah Gül as its sole candidate for the presidency. The AK Party did not have any alternatives because Gül's withdrawal could not be justified on any reasonable grounds. It cannot be said that his chief motivation was the "public squares." Undoubtedly, people had been enraged by the man-made tensions over Gül; thus they took this factor into account in their choice on July 22. However, it cannot be the principal reason for the AK Party's insistence on Gül's appointment. The principal reason for Gül's re-nomination is the new stability in Parliament. There is a great difference between the previous and the new Parliament. For instance, Parliament is no longer represented by two parties. In the past term, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) played a very critical role and its attitude was the determining factor.
But today the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is represented by 70 deputies; the Democratic Society Party (DTP) and the independents comprise an important sum with 25 deputies. In the past legislature, the CHP and the alliance of the Motherland Party (ANAVATAN, formerly ANAP) and the True Path Party (DYP), which determined their policies according to the line of the CHP, led to the failure to reach the quorum of 367 sought for the presidential election. As 367 deputies were not present in the first round, the election reached an impasse, forcing early general elections. However, this is not the case today. The MHP, respecting the people's will, has promised to attend the first round. The participation of the MHP alone is sufficient to hold the first round. The independents and the DTP also say that they will participate in the first round. Such being the case, what reason could Gül have to withdraw his candidacy?
Nevertheless, the CHP remains obdurate. It's getting ever-so-isolated with this attitude, becoming more disconnected from the people and narrowing its political sphere.
The Democratic Left Party (DSP) has adopted a constructive and democratic attitude; yet the CHP is turning a blind eye to this. Public support for "tensions" politics has dropped to below 20 percent. Now, Gül has sought an appointment with the CHP to discuss his candidacy, but was turned down. Why? "Tayyip Erdoğan did not come to us; he did not even deem it necessary to speak to us beforehand," the CHP officials claim. Now they have given Gül a message: "We don't want to talk to you; and if you are elected, we will protest."
Would tensions serve the CHP in any way? No way! Would they serve the AK Party? Definitely not! Would they serve democracy, the state and the institutions and foundations of the state, and the citizens? How could they!
Now, let's consider the opposite of this, if you like. Let's assume Gül held a meeting and stated that he had withdrawn his candidacy. How could he explain this to his voters and the world? If the MHP, DTP, DSP and the independents perceive the election message as "Don't make any more waves!" what justification could the AK Party come up with? Statements like "Some institutions of the state want it so; therefore, Gül must withdraw," humiliate and belittle the Turkish Parliament. Nobody has the right to pit the Turkish Armed Forces and other state institutions against Parliament. Electing the president is within the jurisdiction of Parliament; so says the Constitution.
Anything contrary would amount to denying democracy in this country. Had Gül withdrawn, the image portrayed would be: "The AK Party was pressured behind closed doors." This situation would give the state and particularly the armed forces a difficult time and would disgrace Turkey. Who could feel good about "a democracy under military supervision"!
Moreover, how could we explain to the world why a statesman who served as prime minister, as foreign minister for five years and represented Turkey to the world, cannot become the president? Those against Gül's presidency today would be making speeches on democracy had Gül not been nominated. This would further erode the army's prestige.
There is no logical reason to block Gül's election. Everybody knows that when elected, Mr. Gül will abandon his political identity and will establish dialogue with everyone and every institution. Obviously, Çankaya Palace will cease to work as a notary public during his tenure; this in turn will be an important test for the AK Party. Those who opt for tension-driven politics will have made a big mistake; people don't approve of such an attitude, and the world's eyes are now riveted on the Turkish democracy.
Why Gül didn't withdraw his candidacy
Anything contrary would amount to denying democracy in this country. Had Gül withdrawn, the image portrayed would be: "The AK Party was pressured behind closed doors." This situation would give the state and particularly the armed forces a difficult time
By Ekrem Dumanlı, Today's Zaman