Election scenes from my homeland - SÜLEYMAN SEYFI ÖĞÜN

Election scenes from my homeland

“Political rallies” directed towards the 2015 elections are proceeding in an intensive manner. In reality, conducting political rallies is quite an old, and outdated concept. Let's think of it this way: Since the beginning of the previous century, meetings have been conducted in the form of political projection (demonstration). So the relationship between elections and rallies have been entrenched in almost everyone's minds, and have almost been memorized by heart. If there are elections, it means that there will be rallies.

Now let's take a closer look: A political demonstration actually expresses an ontological allegation. In other words, this also makes a political appearance possible or is an effort to prove one's existence. Secondly, the glory of political rallies also amounts to challenging the other side. Here, it would be extremely bizarre to expect to win politically “other” things. I can say that this is mostly limited to politically “introduce those from amongst us,” “to publicize those from amongst us to us,” and “to assure a person's trust in us as a majority.” All that pandemonium is done solely for this. While people meeting at the rally squares do not know one another, they still look at one another's faces with the sympathy of fraternity based on the fact that they all support the same side. The human soul is bizarre. An experience which enables him/her to comprehend the fact that he/she is a part of great crowds may be relieving especially when it is done so in the manner of a rite.

What is strange is that these scenes also have an empty and naïve side to them as well. Gathering large crowds is not a clear indicator of how much a political party is close to winning the elections. The late Osman Bölükbaşı used to gather large crowds, but these crowds never returned to him as votes. Once, he even got mad and rebuked the applauding crowd by saying, “The applause is for us, but votes are for the Justice Party (Adalet Partisi).” Those who cast their votes based on comparing the crowds and then go for the ones with the most people, or to sympathize with the least number of people, is probably a negligible amount.

In societies where political parties are well established and operate in a substantial manner, political rallies lose their meaning. Outdoor spaces are abandoned. They are instead replaced with indoor conventions. I would like to draw attention to the difference between the “outdoor space” and “indoor space.” To make do with indoor spaces is in a way an indicator of the softening of political claims. I think that there is a correlation between making politics become routine and the withdrawal of political rallies to indoor spaces. In instances if there are stressful political events, whatever is exciting favors the outdoor areas.

In Turkey, indoor areas are mostly preferred for parties' conventions. But when elections are in question, indoor areas do not even come to mind. In the case that someone still does it, it signifies the smallness of the party. In a way, they say “they could not even have an outdoor rally at a public square.” The occurrence of this could be evaluated as one of the most explicit indicators of the fact that political rallies in Turkey are still not made in an assertive manner and the fact that we are a society where political tensions are still high.

Everyone sees that political rallies also have their own sense of economics. With flags, slogans, posters and more, there is substantial amount of business going on. Those behind this business are the members of the unnamed Bread Party's members. They work underground with mature seriousness. But the environmental pollution caused by the products of this business is at a considerable level which cannot be ignored. Thankfully, they no longer post advertisements here and there, and even worse, no longer are the walls and fountains of historical mosques exploited for this sort of political vandalism.

What particularly draws my attention amongst the election scenes are the “mini buses” which hang the emblems of political parties on their hood and sides and drive around with the parties' election theme songs blaring. This is also an archaic, but a nostalgic matter. We cannot skip this. I suppose comedians like Cem Yılmaz can draw a lot of material from these for inspiration. What can we say? These are the election scenes from our homeland…

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