Digital Platforms, Analog Elections: How Civic Groups Are Trying to Bring Back Democracy in Turkey

by Postwoman

When Gezi protesters occupied the park last summer and took their frustration with the government to the streets, Prime Minister Erdoğan told them to “be patient and face off at the ballot box.” It was exactly Erdoğan’s reductive framing of democracy, which limits political legitimacy to elections and takes an uncompromising, polarizing stance against opposition, that Gezi protesters stood against. Nonetheless, unlike similar political movements in the United States and Western Europe that have abandoned electoral politics, Gezi protesters took Erdoğan’s call seriously and owned up to their votes on 30 March. Their movement could not grow into a political party that would conjoin the grievances of the multitude in the park, and the opposition parties could not respond to the pluralistic and active citizenship that the protesters demanded. But the distrust in institutional politics did result in a number of civic initiatives that mobilized thousands of volunteers to act in a watchdog capacity during and after the elections last Sunday. Read more.