There are four parties in Parliament. The largest and smallest parties, in terms of number of MPs, have already said yes to the referendum. Thirteen MPs from the second largest opposition party, the HDP, including the co-chairs and spokespersons, as well as thousands of its members, have been arrested. The co-mayors of the municipalities governed by the HDP’s sister party, the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), have all been removed from office and arrested. While it may be a tactical move, the primary opposition party is waging a campaign with no pomp or circumstance whatsoever. All the billboards are filled with yeses. The dissident media has been entirely silenced under the pretext of the state of emergency (OHAL), and aside from the shut-down television stations, radio stations, and newspapers, thousands of journalists have been left without work and 150 journalists are in prison. As in the cases of Atilla Taş and Murat Aksoy, they take people who are supposed to get out of prison back in before they`ve even been able to leave. As if that’s not enough, they suspend judges who order the release of prisoners. Journalists who say they’re going to vote no are fired on the spot. Meetings held in the name of the President and Prime Minister’s inauguration are broadcast on fifteen to twenty channels at the same time.
And yet, in spite of this, the ruling party has been unable to guarantee itself fifty percent. It is so lacking in this guarantee, in fact, that it’s forbidden to publish polls on the matter. And so in spite of that, you’re really not going to go to the polls just because you’re hopeless? If you’re not going to be hopeful when even the world’s most unjust election campaign has been unable to sway half of society, then when will you be hopeful?
[Kerem Altıparmak is a lecturer in law at the University of Ankara, Faculty of Political Sciences. This piece was initially published in Turkish on Mülkiye Haber under the title “Umutlu Olmak.” It was translated into English by Nicholas Glastonbury.]