Since the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power on Nov. 3, 2002 and began carrying out reforms pertaining to the democratization of the regime, Turkey has witnessed a number of oddities. First of all, the great shock caused by the AK Party's landslide victory did not cause much disturbance to the neo-nationalist and secular sections of society that are assumed to constitute one-quarter of the country, because all the crucial offices of the regime and the whole bureaucracy were at their helm.
As soon as the AK Party came to power, the military juntas in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) started to plot a coup against it. Within the scope of conspiracy preparations, the media, associations, labor unions, judicial bodies, the presidential office and business circles, all of which had continuously collaborated with the pro-coup military, then launched campaigns to immobilize the government. This camarilla of various institutions had an excellent self-reliance. However, we were on the ragged edge as we had witnessed the same stage many times in the past. Most of the time this scenario ended in the overthrow of the government, followed by extreme despotism.
But today, we do not have the same case. The writers, who supported the idea of civil democracy like us, were all demonized then as they are today. But this time the government and its leader turned out to be quite valorous and determined. Erdoğan successfully rebuffed the coup attempts at every turn and the public that became more experienced over time increasingly supported civil democracy. Therefore, as they could not stage a coup directly, the elections became critically important. In the past, the popular electoral preference was always overleaped by the pro-tutelage groups regardless of whom they elected and the politician was toppled. It did not work out this time.
As far as I am concerned, the two most critical thresholds of democracy were the presidential election in 2007 and the constitutional referendum on Sept. 12, 2010. The presidential office, which was regarded as the stronghold of oligarchy and their own estate by the neo-nationalist elites, was dominated by the AK Party in 2007. Even the verdict of the Constitutional Court (upon the Republican People's Party's appeal) that entailed a quorum of 367 members of Parliament to elect the president did not work out to deactivate the AK Party's presidential candidate. Even if it seemed that the presidential election was halted by the Republican People's Party (CHP), the government passed a bill that transferred the right of electing the president to the public.
The second critical threshold is that the neo-nationalist hierarchical system was bent in the judiciary through the constitutional amendment in 2010. The articles of pro-tutelage mindset that stipulated military immunity and the military's judgment of civilians was democratized. Apart from all this, an important step was taken to transform "law of the superiors" into "the superiority of law" by unearthing the deep state's clandestine coup attempts through the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials. We have only recently awakened to the fact that the police, adjudicators and prosecutors – all affiliated with the Gülen Movement – manipulated both the constitutional referendum and these two trials to settle down in the critical institutions of the state; however, these steps were still of critical importance and had a traumatic effect on the neo-nationalist elites.
Within this period as a whole and against all odds, the AK Party displayed a more successful performance in a total of eight elections that it participated in. This does not only indicate the AK Party's victory, it also means the public's aspirations for reforms and its anxiety about reliving past experiences. The public constitutes some three-quarters of Turkish society.
However, as it surfaced in the Gezi crisis, today we have a serious issue of neo-nationalist White Turks. They are mostly urbanite, university educated, Western-lovers who have an orientalist standpoint on the East and convert the state for their own use. They dominate 65 percent of the media and have a monopoly on creating a false perception of reality to present to the outside world. With this efficiency, they always maintain a sense of anger and antagonism among the grassroots they address. Their media outlets are full of fabricated news, disinformation and hate crimes. They play a key role in the polarization of Turkey; however, they never feel moral unease while passing the buck to Erdoğan and the religionists.
There is no doubt about the fact that the neo-nationalist elites are well aware of what their senior staff do. They are fighting a battle against the popular sovereignty. As they are arrogant and rely on their powers, they have no intention of doing politics or garnering votes by taking the stump among the public.
However, this is not true in the case of the grassroots whose perceptions are managed by them. This grassroots sinks into depression as they think these simulations created by the media and the CHP are the real world. All in all, Erdoğan is a political figure who has made mistakes like everyone else. They hate him to the full extent of their senses by creating a transcendental image of him. I also hail from a similar background; even worse, I still live among them. One of them recently told me that he was praying for Erdoğan's death. I come across this stereotypical mindset more than you'd expect.
Yılmaz Özdil, editor-in-chief of Hürriyet daily, the flagship of the White Turks' media, accuses Erdoğan of speaking harshly. In one of his columns, he says to Erdoğan, "There will be water cannons waiting to ensure that your grave remains spit-free," while in another one he did not hesitate to comment on the deaths of 301 coal miners in Soma with the words "They deserved this bitter end as they voted for the AK Party." This is a pathological state of mind. Let alone displaying any attempts to recover from this, both their media outlets and their favorite party the CHP exacerbate this antagonism to seize power by creating social contention. They are lynching writers like us who disagree with their hate speech, despite coming from the same background. Here it falls on the government again. For 80 years, they were made to believe that they were privileged and superior to the public, and they took this for granted. Now as the country becomes more democratic, they perceive this equalization as a trauma. For this reason, Erdoğan and his cronies should resort to psychiatrists and adopt a pedagogical discourse while approaching this sociology. We may not save the current generation; however, we can save their descendants from this hate speech.