Rouge Park Appreciation Day is this Saturday

May 28, 2015 by  
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A quick reminder that Rouge Park Appreciation Day is this Saturday. Please join the Friends of Rouge Park and others in cleaning up the largest park in Detroit.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. at Joy Rd. and Spinoza St. Volunteers are asked to wear long sleeves and long pants as well as sturdy covered shoes.

There might have some rain so bring a raincoat. This event will go on, rain or shine.

Lunch will be served after for all volunteers.

Bridge to Belle Isle

May 28, 2015 by  
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Bridge to Belle Isle
Oil on linen panel,  5x7" 2015

Click here to View Auction

This landscape painting is a view of the MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle
Click on image for larger view.


MPC15: Five things to know about leadership from Presidential scholar Doris Kearns Goodwin

May 28, 2015 by  
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As a Presidential biographer and historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin certainly feels sympathy for the struggles that past leaders have endured.

DorisBut she also has strong feelings for the leaders of today, whether they are presidents, chief executive officers or managers of any kind. Their need to balance the media, the job’s demands and their relationships with fellow leaders is a struggle where few truly excel, Goodwin noted to a group of reporters at the 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference.

Some background: Goodwin was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in history for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, and is the author of the bestsellers Wait Till Next Year, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream and The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, which was adapted into an award-winning five-part TV miniseries.

So how can a leader adopt some of the qualities that Kennedy, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Johnson had in their daily lives? Here are few of Goodwin’s observations.

1.    Your communication has to be simple. Provide your listener with the basic information. Don’t use flowery language or huge words. Franklin Delano Roosevelt prided himself on limiting himself on how pompous his word choices were, Goodwin said. Do the same.

2.    Tell a story. Lincoln used the phrase “A house divided cannot stand” like a sword – it immediately created an image in the minds of people who read it or heard it. Teddy Roosevelt also used a house in his descriptions of the relationship between the United States and other countries. That image gave the American public something to hold onto as they tried to embrace the messages their presidents gave them.

3.    Reach people emotionally. FDR smiled and make gestures when he did his fireside chats – that mood translated over the radio and created loyalty among the listeners, the American people. FDR also kept people in the audience, friends of his, who could give him verbal feedback to his words.

4.    Get out of the office. Teddy Roosevelt took these six-week tours out of the White House to meet and greet the public. These sorts of meetings are essential to leaders, who need to get out of their offices and hear what “regular” people have to say. To surround yourself with “yes people” does your company or organization a disservice, Goodwin said.

5.    Give people – and yourself – time to focus. In Lincoln’s day, all of his speeches were printed in the newspaper, Goodwin said. That gave the American public time to read, re-read and re-read again his words. They had time to digest his ideas, Goodwin said. In this busy digital era, people are scatters. Leadership can be lost in the quick turn of news. Find a way to put your words, ideas and thoughts before your public in a way that lets them think deeply upon what you’ve said, question it and respond to it.

Thursday Morning Brews (5/28/15)

May 28, 2015 by  
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Wide receivers, and poetry.

Wide Receiver Haiku

Alone on the field -

running routes, hydrating, then

gassers in the sun

Offensive Lineman Haiku

Strength, then speed, then blitz -

Frustration on the sideline

A helpless feeling

Tight End Haiku

A perfect storm brews -

the security blanket

picks the right moment

Hitting the Links Likes Clouds And Dust

Ohio Stadium Will Host Cleveland Browns

This is a good move by Gene Smith - who has been a great athletic director for a long time - and the Buckeyes. Smith is the vice-president of the university, as well, and shuffles between athletic and academic management.

Michigan Football's APR Is All-Time High

'All-time' doesn't cover that many years in this case, but it's still a great accomplishment that's worth applauding.

Michigan's Athletic Department Revenue Paces Big Ten

Michigan may not be winning on the field, but they are, um, winning.

Michigan Hype Video | Early Betting Lines For 2015

I love that Jim Harbaugh got help from Xzibit, who's a Detroit native, for this. Harbaugh has solidified the Michigan community, and added to it everywhere from Detroit to Peru. Las Vegas is less enthused, though, setting the over/under for Michigan at 7.5 wins. Then again, they set the over/under for Rutgers at 5.

Passing UFR: Rudock's Flaws

MGoBlog talks more of Rudock's game, including some bad decision-making and missed opportunities.

Harbaugh Praises Michigan State's Success

Really, there's little else Harbaugh could do. Dantonio has taken a program with a poor reputation and turned it around with two-star recruits. He helped the state, and plenty of student-athletes who were willing to work hard but got overlooked by everyone else. And he did it without smiling once, which is pretty impressive too.

Todd Gurley, And Old-School

The NFC West, with Seattle, San Fran, and St. Louis, is pushing the NFL a little more into run-oriented offense. It's also bringing an interesting dynamic to a league with less offensive diversity than the college game.

The Whining, Unhappy SEC

This is a great, angry column that lays out exactly what moral high ground the SEC is coming from.

Thoughts on Countess and Hayes Transfers

The success that Michigan's outgoing transfers have had has gone under the radar, but it's worth attention. Josh Furman actually got drafted. Richard Ash started 12 games, after playing in 14 his entire Michigan career. Thomas Rawls ran for 1,100 yards in nine games, on 5.3 yards a carry, at Central Michigan. That included two consecutive games, against Ohio and Northern Illinois, that he got 499 yards.

To an extent, Ash's and Rawls' success is fitting for a drop down in competition. Players who don't make the cut at Michigan should compete at a high level at smaller schools. But Furman was a revelation. Even though he had problems with the law during his time at Michigan, it's certainly proof that Hoke mismanaged the talent he had to work with.

"You can quote me on this," Oklahoma State's defensive coordinator said, "they must have an outstanding secondary out there."

Oregon Adds OL Transfer

Hegarty started 11 games last year, and he'll be an important piece for Oregon's follow-up. Under the hood of Marcus Mariota's attack, center Hroniss Grasu (a third-round NFL pick), left tackle Jake Fisher (a 2nd-round pick, originally out of Michigan), and left guard Hamani Stevens all played big roles.

Big Ten Mailbag: Bigger OOC Matchup?

Brian Bennett lays out whether Alabama-Wisconsin or MSU-Oregon is more important for the Big Ten's credibility.

SB Nation's Iowa Preview | Most Likely to Flop?

Obviously it would be ideal to go and watch more film - but from what I've seen, the stats do not accurately assign blame in Bill Connelly's discussion of offensive line vs. running backs. The use of Weisman was inane, and Akrum Wadley did not help at all. In some sense, perhaps it's a moot argument. But the offensive line allowed penetration regularly from the interior, and could not handle athletic bigs like Maliek Collins. The running lanes were not there often enough.

SB Nation's Northwestern Preview | Could Losing Veterans Help?

Inside NU's article is, I believe, correct. The offensive linemen that Northwestern loses, for example, were - despite their extensive experience - some of the weakest parts of the entire offense. Of course, that's moot if the young blood can't play any better.

Oregon State Non-Conference Primer

Gary Andersen may have left the conference, but Michigan will get to re-acquaint themselves regardless.

SEC Stuck With ... Uninspiring Quarterbacks

This is something I've brought up a while ago, but the SEC's season will in some ways be defined by their quarterback success. There's been heavy amounts of attrition, especially to the MLB farm system, and quarterback was a position the SEC hadn't out-recruited the other conferences anyway. At the same time, there may not be two other leagues with the same amount of wide receiver talent that the SEC has right now. It'll be an interesting give-and-take.

Travin Dural One-Handed Grab (Against D.J. Durkin's Defense)

Casual fans know of Dural as a talented but green receiver for LSU, and that's perfectly true. He'll have more of an opportunity to shine, perhaps, in 2015.

Laquon Treadwell Freshman Highlights

This is a bit light, but also interesting in how it occasionally shows mirror plays from his time in high school. Also, the touchdown he manufactured at 1:53 is great play-making.

Malcolm Mitchell Touchdown

Florida vs. Georgia is somehow one of the most under-the-radar rivalries in the game. The game takes place every year at a neutral-site location, Jacksonville, Florida.

Pharoh Cooper Highlights

South Carolina's star wide receiver, and occasional running back, is one of the few remaining stalwarts from last season's offense, which has to replace key players at quarterback, running back, and on the line. Steve Spurrier had some good things to say about the front-runner at quarterback, though.

"Connor Mitch is tremendously improved from when he first got here. He seems to have a little bit more confidence and knows what to do now. I think he's ready to take some giant steps."

Five Easy Camping Meals

May 28, 2015 by  
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Camping Tips and Tricks

When it comes to camping organization is the key. When you are organized you can relax and have a good time. At least that’s how it is for me. I like when things run smoothly and if it rains and I don’t have the rain coats, we’ll it’s a wet and muddy mess. If I’m prepared with the rain boots and rain coats we all have a great time despite the weather.

I’m a planner.

Over the course of the summer I’m going to provide you with some of my tips for making camping with the family a breeze. Tips that include menu planning, how to pack your camper trailer or pop-up, reviews of product and camp grounds and fun activities and games – basically all of my secrets for making camping fun, green and organized! For starters I’m going to share with you 5 of my all-time favorite camping recipes, recipes that I either make ahead- to enjoy , recipes my family love or that I’ll soon try on a future camping trip. We’ll be heading out this weekend for a long 3 day group camping trip and I’m in the packing mood!

5 Easy Camping Meals

5 Easy Camping Meals:

Breakfast Cupcakes: These are filling; I play with the ingredients and add any vegetables I have in the house. I can make these ahead of time and have them individually wrapped in foil to be warmed over the fire for a quick and healthy on the go-camping breakfast.

                                                                                             Source: via Sommer on Pinterest

Campfire Toasted Burritos:  I’ve adapted this recipe from to meet the needs of my family. I add different veggies, sometimes hamburger meat, other-times shredded chicken or steak cubed. It depends on the leftovers I have in my house the week we go camping. I often make these ahead of time and individually wrap them in foil. The family can eat them for lunch, dinner or breakfast and we’ll pair them with fresh fruit and chips and salsa. It’s a win-win for an easy camping meal.

Grilled Cheese Pull-Apart Sandwich: Again, I’ve adapted this original recipe depending on what meat I have left in my fridge or what might be on sale. Ham and provolone cheese with spicy mustard is delicious but I’ve also made this with turkey or corned beef for more of a Ruben and served with pickles and chips. A hit!

                                                                                            Source: via Sommer on Pinterest

A Crock Pot Feast:  This is something that everyone will love and if you’re hosting a group dinner with other campers you’ll be loved by all. I make this with spicy seasoning and with a mild seasoning depending on the group but the shrimp, sausage, corn and potato combination served with a big skillet of corn bread will be to die for! This is easy to throw together the day of and let cook all day – your camp site will smell delicious so beware! The full recipe can be found here but if you read through the comments you can see what might or might not work for you family.

Pancake Bites:  I’m a lazy morning camper so I like breakfast to be easy and the pancake bites with some sausage on the griddle make life easy. I make these ahead of time and either warm them in a microwave or wrap them in fours in foil to heat for only a minute over the hot campfire. The kids love them and with some yogurt they make for a hearty and filling breakfast.

 If you’d like to request a topic, ask me questions or have me review a product or campgrounds feel free to contact me – we prefer to focus on the Midwest for camping. For other great camping articles and tips and tricks click here

Post from: Green and Clean Mom (TM) all rights reserved.

Five Easy Camping Meals

The post Five Easy Camping Meals appeared first on Green and Clean Mom ™.

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Social Progress Index measures what matters most to neighborhood growth … how to improve lives

May 28, 2015 by  
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By Jackie Berg

Although Detroit’s post-bankruptcy progression is all but certain, there is no clearly defined path leading to neighborhood prosperity … yet.

With questions of Detroit’s fiscal stability behind it, the city’s collective will to survive must now be met with an equal, if not greater conviction to thrive, according to supporters of a new Social Progress Index (SPI) unveiled at the 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference (MPC) this week.

Oakwood_Heights_DetroitMichigan is the first state to be measured by the index.

The effort will require a laser-like focus on the things that matter most to its citizenry, say supporters of the index. Those supporters include Mark Davidoff, chair of the MPC and Michigan managing partner at Deloitte LLP; Harvey Hollins, director of the Michigan Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives, and Justin Edwards, Social Progress Imperative representative.

What matters most to many community leaders may not be limited to economic growth. Although robust economic growth often translates to community wellbeing, that isn’t always the case.

That’s the gap that worries Davidoff and others.

Before we can fully access our neighborhood’s wellbeing we must answer the questions that really matter.

Do I have enough to eat?

Can I get a bus to work?

Am I going to find a good school for my child?

Today, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the most commonly used tool to measure community health. That may not be the most appropriate one for the 21st century, says Davidoff, who is a leading advocate of the SPI.

resizeThe SPI is designed to measure social and environmental outcomes such as access to basic human needs, health and education and the ability of people to improve their own lives. It serves as a complementary measure to more typical economic prosperity indexes, like the GDP.

The SPI was launched globally earlier this year. It measures 99 percent of the world’s population across 52 indicators of social and economic outcomes. In total, 131 countries were ranked according to these findings. While the U.S. ranks first according to GDP, our country ranks 16th on the 2015 Social Progress Index. Davidoff says it’s a more “human” barometer that will measure the things that matter most to us. A wake-up call indeed.

“To achieve sustainable growth, we, as a society, should consider looking beyond GDP as the sole measurement of progress and success in policy and financial governance,” says Davidoff. “We have the power and responsibility to create a positive impact on society by bringing together private, public and civil sectors for collaboration that drives social change. That notion is at the root of this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference as we guide the region in moving forward with ‘One Michigan Voice.’”

Mark Davidoff

Mark Davidoff

Earlier this year, the state of Michigan entered into an agreement with Social Progress Imperative to align the framework of its urban agenda with the framework of Social Progress Index. The initiative is collaboratively supported by Deloitte LLP, the University of Detroit Mercy and Passion in Philanthropy.

Although the SPI has particular application in Detroit’s post bankruptcy recovery, it represents an additional tool for Michigan cities to gather and examine information what is uniquely important to their constituency.

“This is not a cookie cutter tool,” says Davidoff. The SPI provides a revolutionary framework for community leaders to identify access and examine their progress in areas that typically remain unexamined.

“Governor Rick Snyder began his first term in 2011 with a 10-point plan to ‘Reinvent Michigan.’ One of the points in his 10-point plan is to restore cities,” says Hollins. “While the creation of jobs and businesses is critical to the restoration of cities, other challenges like transportation, healthcare, crime, daycare and education can be equally important.”

A better picture is needed to resolve problems and the SPI will help community leaders better manage and deploy resources to resolve issues, says Hollins.

A full report on the social progress index findings in Michigan will be available to the public later this year. Detroit Unspun will share that with you.

— Jackie Berg is publisher of TheWeigh.

Treat Yo’self to Some Premium Frozen Yogurt

May 28, 2015 by  
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In the heart of East Grand Rapids is a frozen yogurt shop that has recently had many new and exciting changes. Sweet Yo’s Premium Frozen Yogurt, located on Wealthy Street near Gaslight Village, is a self-serve frozen yogurt bar that offers a wide variety of flavors and toppings to satisfy the tastebuds of the EGR […]

The post Treat Yo’self to Some Premium Frozen Yogurt appeared first on Awesome Mitten.

Iraq: Shiite Militias change Ramadi Campaign to “I’m Here, O Iraq”, capture southern reaches

May 27, 2015 by  
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By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | –

After an outcry and Pentagon criticism, the Shiite militias in Iraq have changed their name for their current campaign to take Ramadi from Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) from “I am here, O Husayn’ to “I am here, O Iraq.” A spokesman for the militias said that the two slogans say the same thing, anyway.

Husayn, the martyred grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, is especially venerated by Shiite Muslims and naming the campaign for him could have been interpreted as a sign of sectarianism. Most Sunnis don’t practice the ritual morning for Husayn in the way that Shiites do. Sunnis say they are also disturbed by the presence of Iranian advisors among the Shiite militias.

Iraqi security officials announced that a combination of the Iraqi army, Shiite militiamen, and Sunni tribal levies have already managed to take back from Daesh some of south Ramadi, the capital of al-Anbar Province. They said they had cut off the city from resupply or smuggling in of money, from the south and the west.

At the same time, the provincial council of al-Anbar Province announced that government forces had captured 25 Daesh fighters.

Iraqi formal security forces and the Shiite militias also say that they managed to position themselves inside the University of al-Anbar.

There were allegations that the Iraqi army and its militia alies were engaging in indiscriminate bombardment of Ramadi.


Related video:

Reuters: “Iraqi troops fight to retake Ramadi”

Kaplan: An Impish Desire for Imperial Déjà Vu

May 27, 2015 by  
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Daniel Martin Varisco | (MENA Tidningen) | –

A recent online commentary by Robert Kaplan for Foreign Policy displays the provocative title: “It’s time to bring imperialism back to the Middle East”. The punch line surfaces in the final paragraph: “Imperialism bestowed order, however retrograde it may have been”. Retrograde? How about brutal?

Let’s see: Mussolini made the trains run on time; Hitler brought Germany out of the humiliation of a World War I defeat; Genghis Khan lengthened the Silk Road by slaughtering just about everyone along the way. So let’s bring back the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Colonel Qaddafi and all the recently demoted dictators so we can have “order” again, the kind of “order” which is imperially blessed and apparently serves American interests.

Kaplan’s view of Middle Eastern history is about as top-down and lop-sided as you can get. Take the Sublime Porte, for example: “For hundreds of years, Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Jews, Muslims and Christians, in Greater Syria and Mesopotamia had few territorial disputes. All fell under the rule of an imperial sovereign in Istanbul, who protected them from each other”, he writes. Really? What romance novel has Kaplan been reading? Was there such love for the Ottoman sultans that no ethnic group ever complained? Did all these subjugated people sleep peacefully at night knowing that the Janissaries would protect them from each other? But why stop with the Ottomans?! The caliphs in Abbasid Iraq must have been all made for a Disney Aladdin movie and their mercenaries nothing short of angels? And what barbarian would have dared speak against the glorious Pax Romana of the Caesars? Forget the out-dated Sermon on the Mount. According to Kaplan, blessed are the Machiavellian despots for only they can enforce peace in the name of order, at least in what used to be called the Holy Land.

In Kaplan’s apocalyptic view ISIS has now obliterated the “the borders erected by European imperialism, British and French, in the Levant”. Israel’s annexation of the West Bank never happened, of course. It seems that the new ISIS empire could be a candidate for membership in the United Nations. But crossing the borders in humvies and pick-up trucks hardly changes the lines on the maps. The borders may be porous, but they are still internationally recognized borders and will revert to the established countries once ISIS is cleared out. We are told that for Libya, Syria and Iraq, “Because identity in these cases was fragile, the most suffocating forms of authoritarianism were required to merely hold these states together”. But this puts the cart before the camel. The dictators arose not because the local population was given a chance and failed the “rigors of democracy”. The dictators gained power as a result of the dismal policies of Western imperialism before and after World War I and II.

Huntington’s simplistic clash of civilizations scenario is the inspiration for Kaplan’s thesis that “Only suffocating totalitarian regimes could control these artificial countries formed from vague geographical expressions”. Forgetting that all modern states are “artificial” and imagined, Kaplan assumes that the region must inevitably be totalitarian, as though revolutions can only occur in the West. The totalitarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa that came to power did so in the power vacuum created by Western imperialistic manipulation. The fact that Saad Zaghloul and Mohammad Mosaddegh were denied self-determination seems to have escaped Kaplan’s imperial vision. So the dictators get praised and blamed at the same time, as though they evolved in a vacuum.

As Kaplan rightly notes, “Strong Arab dictatorships across the region were convenient to American interests…”. Indeed they were, but they were hardly convenient to the people they ruled and often ruthlessly killed. What a sigh of relief there must be in Washington that a democratically elected President Morsi is now replaced (and condemned to death) by a military general who imagines himself a pharaoh draped in red, white and blue. And then there is the House of Saud which “has impressively navigated its way over the decades through immense social transformation at home and a tumultuous security situation abroad”. Public beheadings and not allowing women to drive are indeed immense, are they not? It is not that hard to be impressive when there are billions of dollars of oil wealth at their disposal, much of which has financed the jihadi mentality now coming back to haunt the Saudi kings. And, of course, Operation Decisive Storm is yet another example of how impressive it is for a country with all the military hardware Washington can sell to bomb a poor neighbour into the Stone Age. The shopping malls and fancy hotels in Mecca must be protected at all costs.

“Thus, the near-term and perhaps middle-term future of the Middle East will likely be grim”, concludes Kaplan. Indeed it will be thanks to the unlimited supply of arms to all sides, the polarizing rhetoric on all sides, the blatant hypocrisy of American foreign policy and the blind eye to every belligerent action of the Israelis against the Palestinians. But let’s not make it any grimmer by returning to puppet despots and imperial ambitions.


Daniel Martin Varisco is President of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, Research Professor at Qatar University and advisor to MENA Tidningen.

Reprinted with the author’s permission from MENA Tidningen

Readers may also enjoy Juan Cole, “What’s Wrong With Robert Kaplan’s Nostalgia for Empire” at The Nation this week.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Euronews: “‘Deadliest day': reports of 80 killed in Saudi-led strikes across Yemen”

Turkish Voters worried about Integrity of Elections, Deterioration of Democracy

May 27, 2015 by  
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By Deniz Erkmen | (Informed Comment) | —

            As Turkey approaches a pivotal parliamentary election on June 7, there is growing doubt about just how “free and fair” this election is going to be. A recent survey conducted by academics Ali Çarkoğlu and S. Erdem Aytaç shows that among the public, trust in the electoral process has been declining; this is especially pronounced among non-AKP (Justice and Development Party) voters 69% of whom do not believe that the election will be fair. Newspapers, social media, and daily chatter is filled with commentaries on the possibility of electoral fraud. Just a few days ago, leading labor unions voiced their concern over the security of the election. Conspiracy theories abound, speculating that the major nation-wide power outage that happened on March 31st was a “rehearsal” by the government for the election day.

            This new atmosphere of distrust towards the fairness of elections in Turkey is well-founded considering the memories of 2014’s local election and current events leading towards the June 7 election, especially so given the larger emotional landscape created and framed by increasing authoritarianism in Turkey which has shattered public’s trust towards rule of law. During the tense local election held on March 30, 2014, there were widespread allegations of fraud – reports of disappearing sacks of votes, fake ballots, miscounts – pushing citizens onto streets in protest, leading to objections and applications for recounts in multiple districts. This is also when strange power outages happened during vote counting whose culprit according to the Energy Minister Taner Yıldız was a cat that walked into a transformer unit.

            Similarly today, the environment leading towards June 7 creates uneasiness. First, there is President Tayyip Erdoğan himself. In Turkey the President is constitutionally bound to be impartial and above party-politics. Not so with Erdoğan who seems to be openly campaigning in his speeches, demanding votes. It is, for example, peculiar that while prime-minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held around 50 election rallies in the last month, Erdoğan has engaged himself with around 20 “opening ceremonies,” all in different cities, all crowned with him giving speeches in which he addresses the crowds as the leader of his party, talking of their achievements, criticizing and attacking opposition parties. His actions have generated multiple objections from opposition parties to the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK), the electoral body that provides judicial supervision to and oversees the election process. All of these objections were denied by YSK in quick succession. 

            That these objections were rejected by the Council is not very surprising. The Electoral Council as it is constituted today is largely subdued and controlled by AKP, reflecting the governing party’s increased domination over both the state bureaucracy and judiciary over the last couple of years. The 2010 constitutional changes allowed the party to control the high judiciary, and the graft scandals of late 2013, ushering purges within the police and bureaucracy, became conduits in the consolidation of AKP control. Similarly, freedom of press continues to deteriorate as the state media mainly works as a party propaganda device and AKP controls the content of mainstream newspapers and media outlets. Intimidation and censorship of independent media goes on unabashedly. Just few days ago the prosecutors’ office in Ankara called for a ban on several opposition media outlets. Within this context, it is hard to think of opposition parties campaigning freely or having fair access or resources in reaching the public.

            In fact, last and most malicious of all are the intimidation campaign and ongoing attacks against the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP). HDP is small in size, yet whether it will pass the 10% electoral threshold or not is the key question in the June 7 elections. If HDP gets into the parliament, AKP is expected to remain under the 330 MP threshold required to make constitutional changes, blocking Erdoğan’s long-held desire to shift the regime towards a presidential system. With HDP getting into the parliament and getting 50-60 MPs, AKP might also fail to get majority in the parliament, leading to a coalition government. As such it is critical to highlight that HDP’s party headquarters, members, and election stands in various cities have been targeted and attacked, even bombed, by one count in over 120 incidents as of end of May. HDP holds the government accountable for these attacks and points to the incendiary language used by government officials and government controlled media targeting the party.

            There is no doubt that these developments taint the parliamentary elections in an already tense and distrustful environment. Within this context, it is no wonder that Turkey is witnessing a big grassroots effort in vote-protection, organized by a voluntary association, Oy ve Ötesi, which claims more than 30000 members and attempts to mobilize over 120000 to oversee voting and vote counting on the election day. While this in itself can be interpreted as a positive development, becoming a new venue for citizen activism, it is important to emphasize that the sense of unease and doubt regarding the elections is a significant change from the past. While Turkey was never considered a “consolidated democracy,” instituting uninterrupted and competitive parliamentary elections has been one of its achievements. Historically, public trust in both the process and results of elections has been strong, election results were accepted by all parties, participation has been overall high and electoral violence generally low. In fact, over the course of its almost 70 year multiparty electoral history, Turkish elections were seen as one of the few institutions free of corruption. That today the energies of citizen activists growing out of Gezi protests are directed to this core yet most minimal requirement of democratic politics itself shows how much AKP managed to snuff out the venues of democratic politics in Turkey which at one point was seen as a promising example in its region.

Deniz Erkmen is assistant professor of political science at Ozyegin University, Istanbul


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Financial Times: “Turkey’s electoral fate”

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