And now we leave the floor to Kuzey Sagkal, a young boy with very clear ideas on what democracy should be based on.
I am a 17 years old student from Doga Schools in Turkey. Me and my friend Deniz have been working on the topic of democracy since 2016. We have delivered a lot of workshops in Greece, Turkey and Finland.
People often talk about countries “becoming” democracies, once they start to have relatively free and open elections. But democracy includes far more than just elections, and it really makes more sense to think about the idea of ‘will of the people’, rather thanjust voting. Most of the Turkish people look at social democracy in a different way; for instance, choosing a class captain is considered to be something big in democracy, whilst in some of the more advanced countries such as Finland this is perceived as being just normal. The main reason behind our hunger for democracy is that we do not have a social democracy. We can only use democracy in its true essence only once in every five years, i.e. for the elections. We can restructure the way we think about democracy by educating our new generations on how to use democracy in their daily life. We can familiarize their opinions on democracy. Today, if we were to ask a Turkish citizen what democracy is, they would only make references to the elections, because that is all we have in the name of democracy in Turkey and underdeveloped countries. Me and my friend Deniz had conversations with people from other countries, who think their
countries are not democratic enough. We all have the same problems of lack of social democracy. In Turkey, our biggest obstacle is created by our minimum wages, which are too low, unlike EU and other advanced countries. Because of that, our people just focus on their work for subsistence and cannot really afford to care about democracy in their daily lives, even in their offices, which sets a bad example for their children who ignore anything about democracy, thus creating an endless loop.
EU projects showed me what is lacking in our democracy system and this led me into thinking about how to solve these problems.
1 Lack of social democracy
1.a Teaching democracy in our schools to the younger generation
as a subject like maths. However, the biggest obstacle is our government. Low educated people do not want to change this system and the current government is happy about this situation.
1.b Push them to use democracy in every scenario in their lives. For instance, choosing their meals at the family dinner by expressing their opinions, or choosing their student council through a democratic voting system, perhaps even including e-voting.
2 Rigging democratic elections
2.a Even though it does not look like a huge problem, it is one of the biggest problems inTurkey’s electoral system. By changing our systemto an e-voting model, we could minimise this risk and make voting easier.
In conclusion, if we were to apply these proposed actions step by step, we could advance our democracy and make use of democratic thoughts in our daily lives. Sure, it will take a long time to put these proposals into action, but our younger generations will be better for it.