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Virtual one-man rule?
Virtual one-man rule?
Ahmet Hakan

ISTANBUL — The current state of Turkey offers little cause for comfort.

• The claims of corruption and theft multiply with each passing day.

• Those same claims are about to be swept under the rug.

• The judiciary is effectively finished.

• Limitation of basic freedoms is on the rise.

• Authoritarianism is alive in the form of virtual one-man rule.

In short, even with yet another victory in local elections this weekend, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has not borne a bonafide democracy. Instead, what it has managed to “normalize” in society is an atmosphere in which Turkey’s conservatives are able to breathe a collective sigh of relief, to finally feel as equals with others and hold their heads up high.

This atmosphere is the singular creation of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, AKP’s leader.

Consider the following: Not long ago, a student with a headscarf was not able to attend to a university, and even the most democratic-minded people among us were arguing that “the citizen can wear a headscarf, but the civil servant cannot.”

The current administration solved this problem, undid the old regulations, and even the people who’d caused this problem realized how ridiculous they had been. “The headscarved women are our sisters too,” they now say.

Moreover, Erdogan is running an extremely powerful propaganda machine and selling the concepts of “corruption” and “lawlessness” to this crowd as “they are attacking me because I gave you this.”

AKP’s supporters are not saying “let him steal,” nor are they telling themselves “let us turn a blind eye to our people’s theft.” Maybe a few, but they are not the majority among AKP voters.

A magical bond

It is time we try to understand the minds of Turkey’s conservative people. That does not mean whitewashing the lawlessness, corruption or authoritarian tendencies going on these days.

Understanding the conservative people would help us grasp the concept of why the conservative crowd does not radically distance itself from the AKP. It would let us reason with an open mind.

There is a magical relationship between the conservative crowd and Tayyip Erdogan. Ending this relationship requires a process, which cannot happen overnight.

Opponents have to stand in front of this same crowd with a new relationship based on trust. The opposition, especially the Republican People’s Party (CHP), took serious steps in this direction. But a relationship of trust is not easy to build.

It is not just the CHP. Even the most democratic circles are just reaching a certain level of maturity regarding the demands and freedoms of the conservative people. But the conservatives see such moves as an attempt to act more democratic because they cannot overpower the government.

Or put another way, there is a suspicion of sincerity. It is meaningless to expect the conservatives to suddenly and radically distance themselves from their own party in such an environment.

Making such hostile comments as “they are sheep” or “they vote for the food donations” should be abandoned, and replaced by a patient, sincere and tireless effort to build trust.

In short, I am saying that we must stand against corruption, lawlessness and the limitation of freedoms. But we must find a way to do this without being seen as enemies to the people.

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Geopolitics

New Probe Finds Pro-Bolsonaro Fake News Dominated Social Media Through Campaign

Ahead of Brazil's national elections Sunday, the most interacted-with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and WhatsApp contradict trustworthy information about the public’s voting intentions.

Jair Bolsonaro bogus claims perform well online

Cris Faga/ZUMA
Laura Scofield and Matheus Santino

SÂO PAULO — If you only got your news from social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday. Such a view flies in the face of what most of the polling institutes registered with the Superior Electoral Court indicate.

An exclusive investigation by the Brazilian investigative journalism agency Agência Pública has revealed how the most interacted-with and shared posts in Brazil on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp share data and polls that suggest victory is certain for the incumbent Bolsonaro, as well as propagating conspiracy theories based on false allegations that research institutes carrying out polling have been bribed by Bolsonaro’s main rival, former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or by his party, the Workers’ Party.

Agência Pública’s reporters analyzed the most-shared posts containing the phrase “pesquisa eleitoral” [electoral polls] in the period between the official start of the campaigning period, on August 16, to September 6. The analysis revealed that the most interacted-with and shared posts on social media spread false information or predicted victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

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