The failed coup attempt that occurred on July 15 has been a landmark in the Turkish people’s coming together into a spirit of unity regardless of social strata and political parties. This incident also showed the importance and indispensability of the concept of opposition in democracies. It displayed that opposition is a vital institution which not only criticises, opposes or rejects but also one that sides with democracy, law and justice and supports the right and the just with all its might.
During the treacherous uprising, citizens of all parts of society risked their lives to support democracy and the legitimate government and thus gave the best response to those who accused the Turkish government of being a dictatorship.
The leaders of the two main opposition parties CHP and MHP, who, as a requisite of democracy, often voice opposite ideas to the government and President Erdogan, expressed their full support and adherence to the president, the prime minister, the legitimate government and democracy on the night of the coup attempt. Until the end of the crisis they continued to provide this support and aid.
In the aftermath of the uprising, the visits the opposition leaders paid to Erdogan in the Presidential Complex were a significant sign of the value attached to democracy in the country.
During the democracy rally that was held in Istanbul upon the invitation of the president, the leaders and administrative cadres of the ruling party as well as the main opposition parties and their 5mn followers gathered in a spirit of unity and brotherhood.
Following the coup attempt, Erdogan said: “We can no longer act like we did before July 15. None of us can, including me as the president.” Upon these words a very important development took place: Erdogan and Metin Feyzioglu, the chairman of the Turkish Bar Association, who were known to be offended because of tensions that arose in a meeting in 2014, met in the Presidential Complex.
Following the meeting, Feyzioglu appeared on the balcony of the conference hall and said that Turkey returned from the verge of a possible civil war and the president assumed a very important role in thwarting the coup attempt, thus conveying a sincere message of support to the president.
These noble and civilised manners of Feyzioglu, who has his roots in the main opposition party CHP, and of Erdogan have been exemplary in showing the fact that when a country’s solidarity, unity, democracy and freedoms are at risk, dissent and resentment must be immediately set aside.
These recent positive and beautiful developments are the kind of images people long to see, not only in Turkey but also in all other civilised and democratic countries.
The opposition, which normally severely criticises the ruling party in daily politics (as it should), has shown that it is the greatest supporter of the ruling party in times of sedition and conflict when the grand interests of the nation are at stake.
In anti-democratic societies where opposition does not exist, in dictatorships or totalitarian presidential systems, there are very rare cases in which the ruling parties could thwart the coup. History has shown us this truth.
Surely in democracies it is the majority of people who elect the legitimate government. However this does not mean that the legitimate government is somehow inherently flawless. This is something that reveals the necessity and importance of the opposition.
The existence of strong opposition is one of the pillars of free and democratic societies. Opposition parties function as vital mechanisms of balance and security that prevent deviations and extremism.
Opposition parties provide great aid to the ruling party by covering its deficits, drawing attention to its flaws and inadequacies. They become instrumental for the ruling party to notice those flaws and compensate them. This is not something negative for the ruling party; on the contrary, it is a very important advantage.
Moreover, in no governmental system it is possible to eliminate the opposition. The only difference is that in anti-democratic, totalitarian and repressive governments opposition is organised underground in an illegal and secret manner. In democracies it is open, legitimate and legal.
What matters is to be conscious of the indispensable nature of the opposition and to attain the maturity of co-existing with the opposition on legitimate grounds.
Democracy is the ideal political system upon which the ruling party and the opposition can co-exist without having the goal of eliminating one another or living with the fear of being annihilated.
However, for this system to function efficiently, the ruling party must attach importance to the opposition and take their recommendations and criticisms into consideration and apply them.
The ruling party must not have an obsession such as “doing the contrary of what the opposition suggests”.
On the other hand, the opposition must not forget that it has a very important position in terms of observing the interests of the country and citizens.
For this reason, its objections and criticisms must not be based on demagogy intended to wear out the other party.
The opposition must be meticulous about being honest, rational and conscientious and base its criticisms upon facts, solid data and research. Criticism and tone must not be devastating but constructive.
It is a very flawed policy of the opposition to slam every move of the ruling party, whether it is right or wrong, and pursue insincere policies simply to overthrow the ruling party.
On the very contrary, it is very important for the opposition to make constructive criticisms and proceed on the tenets of justice and fairness. The opposition must be able to support the truth and applaud it.
This honest and sincere stance will definitely be appreciated by the voters and other citizens.
In conclusion, politicians – whether they are from the opposition or the ruling party – must assume it their main duty to unite around the truths that will secure society’s interests, peace, security, joy and welfare and support one another in attaining these truths.
To accomplish this, a free, honest and conscientious opposition that speaks out will always be the greatest supporter and guarantee of the ruling power.
Criticism and tone must not be devastating but constructive
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