You must be aware of it too, as it is impossible not to be aware of: The name of Ekrem İmamoğlu has simply disappeared into the blue in newspapers’ political commentaries. Concerted attacks of the propaganda machine against him in the media are incessantly continuing -it may even be said that such attacks are increasing- but the attacks are carried out without addressing him by name, though…
Ekrem İmamoğlu exists, of course, but as a man without a name. . .
I wonder why.
We hear that the order to censor his name has come straight from the top, and the media have strongly been advised not to use the name Ekrem İmamoğlu… What is expected from commentators in the pro-government media is to address him as the ‘CHP’s candidate‘ instead of his name -or as ‘the CHP’s candidate İmamoğlu‘ if one felt to use his name inevitable…
This is a rumor. Initially, I found it difficult to believe what I heard; but, when all those well-known personalities in the media who addressed Ekrem İmamoğlu by his name until a few days ago have all started addressing him as the ‘CHP’s candidate‘ without using his name, one cannot help but think that there is an element of truth in the rumor.
If who gave the order is somewhat suspicious about whether or not his order is being obeyed in the media, I am more than wiling to assure him that the name of Ekrem İmamoğlu has disappeared almost completely from commentaries in newspapers.
Is this censorship because it is assumed that the first and family names of the opposition’s candidate create a positive impression on the conservative electorate? [Ekrem means ‘generous‘, and İmamoğlu means ‘son of imam‘ or ‘son of religious leader‘ in Turkish -TN].
I guess so, for no other reason comes to my mind.
It must be thought that conservative voters would find it difficult to vote for CHP [a left-leaning party, the oldest and founding party in political history of Modern Turkey with some adverse connotations for most conservative people -TN] if the opposition’s candidate is perceived rather as the ‘CHP’s candidate‘.
However, a considerable number of conservative people voted for Ekrem İmamoğlu in the last mayoral election of March 31, knowing perfectly that he was the ‘CHP’s candidate‘. The outcome of the election reveals this. The ‘CHP’s candidate‘ won the election by obtaining a high level of votes that CHP traditionally could fail to get over the last quarter century.
In the re-run on June 23, Ekrem Imamoğlu stands a considerable chance for winning the election again, notwithstanding he is addressed by his name or not.
Power of media vs power of electorate
Those who control newspapers and television channels should better reflect on reasons of the fact that CHP managed to win in Istanbul after a quarter century, instead of trying their chance through such tricky ways.
I would like to remind them a vital truth: When readers and viewers notice that commentators in media are acting on orders and instructions, the existing crisis of credibility in the media deepens even further.
In fact, the present state of the media pertinent to the matter of credibility is one of the reasons why some of conservative voters voted for the ‘CHP’s candidate‘ Ekrem İmamoğlu in the election of March 31, because they don’t like being manipulated.
I will not be surprised at all if even a greater number of conservative voters would vote for the ‘CHP’s candidate‘ in the re-run on June 23 when what I noticed in a day or two about the name censorship begins to be noticed by everyone.
The weakest spot of AK Party is the media that it keeps under its control.
What causes AK Party supporters to think twice about going to the ballot boxes to vote for their party in the coming election? “The consequences of the struggling economy which are felt stronger by the people nowadays, or the very anger that is felt by some AK Party voters as they are exposed to those tricky pieces in newspapers and commentaries on TV screens at any time of the day?” I would give the priority to the latter without slightest hesitation as a commentator who has to go through newspapers every day.
As a matter of fact, the management of the economy and the management of the media are in the same hands.
People with a story, and people without a story
We know this also from some political events of the past resembling those of today: The electorate in Turkey do not change side easily; but, once in a while, they suddenly change their minds for some curious reason and decide to try one or some of the alternative parties.
I guess you know the phrase, “taking a country into a new age“. This phrase used widely to compliment Anavatan Party (Motherland Party) of Turgut Özal [the Prime Minister between 1983-1989 and later the President -TN]. Özal, who trusted his voters’ support would not vanish, consoled his party’s leading figures with the claim, “There is no alternative party to us”. He was elected president in 1989, and in the first general election after his becoming the president (1991) a bulk of his party’s hardcore supporters changed their preference for a coalition government and refrained from voting Anavatan.
The electorate showed everyone then -including Özal himself- that there was an alternative to every party.
Did not we experience a similar situation in the election of 2002 which led AK Party to power? In that election too, supporters of well-rooted political parties revealed by their votes that they wished to try a new alternative.
The media power against AK Party did its best to keep the electorate away from the new alternative in the election of 2002, but could not achieve this goal.
The media those days managed to turn Tayyip Erdoğan into a disbanded political leader by making him deprived of his political right to contest in election through a media campaign accompanied with dramatic headlines such as “Let alone be a member of parliament he would not be a headman to a village“, thus, AK Party participated in the election without his leader for he was disbanded.
What result did all that effort ultimately produce? Nothing: AK Party came to the power by overcoming every hoops.
Even its own story alone is enough for AK Party to figure out what mistakes it is committing recently.
AK Party enjoyed a story of its own and a public audience was ready to listen to it in the days of its foundation and that story paved the way for the party to power. Reading a poem during a meeting had caused Tayyip Erdoğan to become a ‘disbanded politician‘, and that event was part of that ‘story‘, too.
Who has a ‘story‘ today? The CHP’s candidate, Ekrem İmamoğlu, or Binali Yıldırım, the AK Party’s candidate?
I may have addressed Ekrem İmamoğlu by his full name a few times in my piece today for the order I mentioned in the initial paragraph above has not reached me.
I can only wish to be excused.
[Translated by Bernar Kutluğ from the the article appeared in this site’s Turkish section on May 30, 2019]