The local (in essence, general) elections in Turkey have come and gone and, as foreseen before the elections, nothing has changed. Not only did nothing change, but since the “actions” of the administration, which sustains an autocratic stance under the cover of a democratic discourse, were further affirmed (albeit with 43 per cent of the votes), there is an ever-increasing trend of totalitarianism. After all, what with all the supreme councils of this and that, the Constitutional Court – established in the aftermath of the 1960 coup to prevent the impasses that the Democratic Party administration ran into within ten years of being voted into office by those who said “enough” to a single party regime – is now on the verge of being made redundant.
Another development is the adoption of the National Intelligence Agency Law, a variation of the infamous “Investigation Commission” established in the last days of the Menderes regime to stifle any form of dissent. Sixty years ago, dissenting newspapers were having their printing paper allowances cut; now, Twitter, YouTube and the like are banned. In other words, not much has changed in how things are done in this part of the world for over a millennium. The only difference is, the man who claims to be the law is “elected” this time, rather than ascending to the throne, and hollers “you can’t interfere with national will; everyone must know their limits” at those who do not want to understand this. Other than that, we keep commuting to work and back five or six days a week, either packed like sardines or at the speed of a tortoise. Our weekends are spent the same way, trying to reach the few seaside areas not yet appropriated by the real estate and construction lobby, or the few recreational spaces left over from a bunch of “wild” projects.
Local public administrations play the largest role in determining the quality of daily life. But in an environment where municipal administrations receive about 10 per cent of total tax revenues, they will remain forever dependent on central government. Even if the central administration (not the City of Istanbul, but the prime minister) decided to kindly granted labour unions permission to gather in Taksim Square on 1 May, nothing important will have changed by 2 May.