Kazantzakis built his novel on the self-awareness of humans by telling the story of a vulgar Greek named Alexis Zorba, whose heart is full of love for humankind. Despite the negative connotations his surname may make, Zorba attaches great importance to human beings and seeks to avoid breaking anyone's heart. At some place in the book, Zorba tells the following story:
"Like Hussein Aga did. He was an old Turk, a neighbor of ours. Very old, very poor, no wife, no children, completely alone. At night used to come in to see us. He used to sit in the yard with my grandmother and a few other old women and knit socks. Well, as I was saying, this Hussein Aga was a saintly man. One day he took me on his knee and placed his hand on my head as though he were giving me his blessing. 'Alexis,' he said, 'I'm going to tell you a secret. You're too small to understand now, but you'll understand when you are bigger. Listen, little one: Neither the seven stories of heaven nor the seven stories of the earth are enough to contain God; but a man's heart can contain him. So be very careful, Alexis -- and may my blessing go with you -- never to wound a man's heart!"
I wish we could remember this type of personality when we hear the word zorba. The connotations of the word zorba -- which borrowed by the Greek language from Persian -- are, unfortunately, not very favorable. Unlike Alexis Zorba's philanthropy and joy of life, the word zorba can be used as an adjective to describe acts and attitudes that can hardly be defined as human. Literally, a zorba is a person who does not allow people under his control or domination to act or speak freely. A zorba is autocratic, despotic and dictatorial. He does not feel any indebtedness to obey customs, traditions, ethical or moral rules nor laws and regulations that bind everyone.
"Why is this mention of 'zorba,' for God's sake?" you might be asking. Of course, this is closely linked to the idiosyncrasies or eccentricities that Turkey has been experiencing in recent months and years. The terrifying and hair-raising acts and activities of President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoy-an, who has been acting in contravention of Hussein Aga's advice to little Alexis -- never to wound a man's heart -- and continually hurting the hearts of millions, denigrating, humiliating and defaming them, and who is now president-elect, have urged me to remember it.
As you know, Erdoy-an has been at the helm of Turkey since 2002 and during the first two terms, he was known for moves and reforms that drove Turkey's democratization. Due to this success, he secured the support and interest of many at home and abroad; even his performance was hailed as a model. However, contrary to his enviable profile, Erdoy-an's third term was characterized with anti-democratic and unlawful practices that disregarded fundamental human rights and freedoms. The contrast was so obvious and salient that many observers and analysts started to refer to him as Erdoy-an II, because he had undergone an anti-democratic transformation.
This Erdoy-an II was narrowly elected as president in the elections held on Sunday. As the election monitoring delegation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and many other foreign political observers noted, the election was not at any point a fair and democratic one. Erdoy-an refused to resign from office as prime minister even though he ran for president, and during his election campaign, he amply used all public resources available to him as prime minister. To bypass campaign bans, he ordered his official car to be affixed with a license plate of a non-official car, and despite the presence of such conflicting interests, Erdoy-an did not hesitate to use public resources to the full. In addition to using private media organizations and private TV stations unfairly and at will, he used the state-owned Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) as his private propaganda machine.
This anti-democratic, unfair and uncompetitive election climate aside, Turkey managed to hold an election on Sunday without any serious rigging concerns. As the winner of this election, Erdoy-an secured the necessary democratic legitimacy that is associated with elections. But electoral success is not the only factor that gives a leader legitimacy in a democratic country guided by the rule of law. The democratic legitimacy of a leader is defined by the extent to which he respects the rule of law while and after he is elected. Having won the election using unethical, immoral and asymmetrical methods against his rivals, Erdoy-an unfortunately failed to take a path that would earn him democratic legitimacy in terms of adherence to rule of law, especially to the Constitution.
During the aggressive campaign he conducted for the election in which the president would be elected by popular vote for the first time, Erdoy-an sent the message that he will disregard the powers and authorities set forth in the Constitution. As soon as he was elected, he adopted an attitude that can only be defined as "tyranny" (zorbalyk). Like an arrogant zorba (tyrant) that does not hold any regard for laws, legislation, ethics or customs, Erdoy-an violated the open provisions of the Constitution and continues to breach the Constitution.
Just as he didn't hesitate to use public resources at will during his campaign, he did not resign from his office as prime minister or chairman of his party even though he was elected president. "The president-elect, if a member of a party, shall sever his relations with his party and his status as a member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly shall cease" is the last paragraph of Article 101 of the Constitution, which is crystal clear so as to require no interpretation. Despite this provision, Erdoy-an continues to act as deputy, prime minister and party chairman. However, his membership in Parliament must be severed immediately, and as a person who is not a deputy cannot become prime minister, his office as prime minister must immediately end, and along with him, the government must resign.
However, with an unprecedented arrogance and disregard for law, President-elect Erdoy-an continues to violate the Constitution publicly. Every transaction he engages in, every decision he makes and every document he signs in his offices as deputy, prime minister and party leader is a crime under the Constitution. Although the Constitution requires his ties with this party to be severed immediately, look at what Erdoy-an did after the Supreme Election Board (YSK) announced his victory: he convened his party's Central Executive Board (MYK) and made decisions that would shape the party's future. On Thursday, he convened the head of local organizations of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). He maintained his activities as a partisan politician, not as an impartial president.
Although the Constitution says, "[H]is status as a member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly shall cease," Erdoy-an continues to act as a deputy, and, therefore, as prime minister. Like a zorba (tyrant) who knows no laws or boundaries, Erdoy-an continues to occupy three positions. As is, he commits scandalous crimes for which he will be held to account. However, in a democratic country guided by rule of law, no one is entitled to commit a crime by violating the Constitution and laws, whatever his position. If he, in the position of president, disregards the Constitution, how can he expect ordinary citizens to respect laws and the Constitution?
In the wake of the local polls on March 30, 2014, certain deputies who were elected as mayors were immediately removed from office as members of Parliament by the speaker of the office of Parliament under the law. Now, the speaker of Parliament is not lifting a finger to sever Erdoy-an's membership with Parliament, thus acting as Erdoy-an's accomplice in this constitutional crime. Likewise, the chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, who is supposed to take action on his own in the face of constitutional crimes and violations, refused to take preventative measures although the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) filed an official complaint. In this way, he is neglecting his duty and acting as an accomplice in this constitutional crime committed by Erdoy-an. The Constitutional Court, too, just sits and watches how Erdoy-an turns the Constitution of the Turkish Republic into a worthless piece of paper.
Tyrants may emerge where rule of law is not respected or in a place of total or partial anarchy, and they may be treated as normal under abnormal conditions. In such environments, certain powerful people who lack moral or ethical boundaries may act with despotism and unlawfulness, and they may impose their unlawful interests on weaker people. But a person who occupies the top post in a country which defines itself as a democratic country guided by rule of law can never act in such a manner. This is unacceptable. No one can occupy the supreme post of the presidency as a tyrant. The president-elect cannot forcibly continue to occupy the posts of party leader, deputy and prime minister. This level of tyranny is too much for Turkey, even after its centuries-old entrenched state traditions were undermined by the AKP and Erdoy-an.
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