Thursday, June 27, 2013

Last week a demonstration, this week backgammon

Sitting this evening on the terrace of a restaurant in Ankara, I discovered that the quiet park opposite where elderly men played backgammon and couples strolled in the quietening summer heat, was the site of Ankara's contribution to recent unrest. Demonstrations against a government perceived to be favoring an Islamic majority over a secular minority - though, in truth, the demographics of the protesters were more complex than that simple division.

All now is apparent calm and the 'foreign provocateurs' have failed, as the government narrative would have it, though I doubt whether they ever existed, and, even if they did, I wonder if anyone in government pauses to think that even a provocateur needs a pre-disposed audience. I might light the fire but the tinder must be dry and willingly ignite!

In the meantime, I hope that this extraordinarily dynamic country can find its way to a democratic form that genuinely protects diversity and recognizes that winning an election (even with a majority of the votes cast) does not constitute the beginning and the end of the democratic process and that the Prime Minister, whose career began, with certain qualifications, moderately well, does not collapse in on itself, ending forlornly.

One of the great innovations of the U.S, political system was to impose term limits on its President. They are always passing through a system and can never identify themselves with it. It is a system that I heartily commend - whether a person has been elected or seized control does not appear to matter, all, without exception, appear to 'lose it' after being in power for more than eight years. They become strangely alienated from the texture of things and their antennae appear to wither.

Better to go quietly than inflict their derangement on others, rediscovering a renewing normality.  

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