The claims that Turkey lacks democracy are groundless

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According to the Western press and many European officials, Turkey lacks a true democracy and is run by an authoritarian government.

They also claim the upcoming June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections will be unfair and will not be free.

Then you look at what is happening in the political sphere in Turkey and you see how all these claims and allegations are unfounded and so prejudiced.

The election campaigns are well underway with the presidential campaigners speaking across the country. Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate Muharrem İnce is bombarding the government; he is making vast campaign promises and even meeting American officials for consultations.

İnce has been campaigning so enthusiastically that in the end he lost his voice and has had to cancel two mass rally appearances. All other presidential candidates are speaking freely and with great enthusiasm all across the country. Does such activity exist in anti-democratic countries?

On the other hand there is extraordinary activity within the parties as they pick candidates to field in the parliamentary elections. Prospective candidates have flooded the party headquarters to become candidates. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reported more than 7,000 would-be candidates have applied to the party for the 600 seats in Parliament. The same goes for the CHP and the other parties. The CHP named its candidates on Sunday, while all parties presented their lists of candidates to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) late Monday.

Ankara was buzzing with activity last week and on Monday as prospective candidates did their last minute calls on politicians to secure a place on the lists. Does such activity exist in an anti-democratic country? Isn't even such activity a sign of a healthy democracy?

Meral Akşener and her political movement are suspected of having close links with FETÖ, which staged the July 15, 2016 bloody coup. The fact that even Akşener and her political movement are participating in the elections shows the kind of tolerance that is inborn in our democracy.

Then there is the case of Selahattin Demirtaş who led the Kurdish nationalist People's Democratic Party (HDP) in 2014 and asked the people to take to the streets to protest the government that ended in riots where 53 citizens were killed. The same Demirtaş in 2015 encouraged a Kurdish uprising in eastern and southeastern cities and townships that was put down with huge losses. He supported the PKK terrorists and is now in custody pending trial. The same Demirtaş has been picked as a candidate by the HDP in the presidential elections, and the Supreme Election Board has allowed him to run in the polls. That is the strength of our democracy. The rule of law prevails.

Demirtaş has committed more severe crimes than the Basque leaders who have been caught and jailed after declaring independence in Spain. So what we are doing really is way ahead of what is being done in Europe. Thus, it is sad that the Western press preaches to us about the quality of our democracy and whether our elections will be fair and square.

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