The developments around İmamoğlu’s trip to the Black Sea became a new indicator of the damage to society-politics relations in the country.
First of all, a wind of hatred blew, leaving the main political meaning of the trip in the background, which was directed towards the secondary elements of the trip. The fact that journalists participating in a politician’s trip become the criteria for evaluating this politician is a clear sign of the destruction in question. The flood of anger and reaction, reminiscent of the excessive, fanatical tribune mood, shows the place of the order of the communities to which we are subject and the politics of the community that rises from time to time in this destruction.
Yet the real issue is not here. The main thing is that this trip reveals the emptiness of image-power politics produced by fears, and within this framework, the miserable point in society-politics relations…
İmamoğlu faced a reputational debate with his choice of journalist group and the way he faced criticism. There was a sudden gap at the level of perception between the meaning attributed to him and his behavior. However, the contradiction is that the problem here is not exactly about İmamoğlu. It is mostly about imaginary images, fictions, the meaning attributed to a person from a distance, the process of giving this meaning, in short, those who give the meaning.
Apart from his 2019 double election success, his style that produces a voter alliance, his lectern performance, some municipal policies and his appearances in some polemics, he is a politician that the public, even the people who support him, do not know, do not know or test. Naturally, in these circumstances, the person who stands out is what his person evokes. As a matter of fact, there is no concrete data that indicates that it represents institutions, institutionalism, collective wisdom, and that it has a concrete national policy project.
Then, what is the last disappointment with Imamoglu? It is a disappointment with the image of him. It is a disappointment experienced by those who produce the image in their relationship with an image they produce.
Why does this illusory image reproduce?
There seem to be two reasons.
The first is the dissenting opinion that only a strong person can defeat Erdoğan, not an idea, and that this powerful person is İmamoğlu.
Secondly, the idea that this “person” represents “good” versus “evil”, or Erdoğan’s opposite in every matter, because he is politically opposed to Erdoğan.
These two reasons show the “low” point of society-politics relations in the country within the framework of the meaning given to politics.
Maybe it can be mentioned that the society is inclined towards personal politics, the relationship between the person and politics, and the idea of cult. But this alone is not decisive. A society produces different tendencies on a free and oppressive ground, even if it is within the same mentality. Turkey, Turkey’s recent past is an example of this.
The issue then is largely the ground.
Populist governments produce hopes and paths similar to themselves, to the extent that they deepen the authoritarian order, suffocate the society-politics relationship, destroy intermediary institutions, means of participation and their diversity.
Today, Turkey is a country that oscillates between falling into this trap or not…
With its society and political actors, the opposition, with its institutions, rules, collective structure and processes, is stuck between a politics of demand and a “politics of supply” whose future is uncertain and what will come out of the ballot box.
The developments around İmamoğlu once again revealed this situation.
Will the opposition defeat Erdogan with personal politics or with a programmatic political wind? In my opinion, the political inputs that keep Erdoğan alive can only be answered through political means and political proposals. Let’s say a person representing personal politics defeated Erdoğan. So, is there a guarantee that the product that will come out of the ballot box will be good and that the opposition and the country will be able to recover? If he can’t, can he avoid handing over power to Erdogan again two years later?
The deep meaning of İmamoğlu’s Black Sea trip lies here.