As Turkish President Recep Erdoğan celebrates the result of a free and fair referendum that is likely to see him as president into the 2030s, here is another presidential leader who specialises in free and fair elections. This leader also recently revised his country’s constitution. Article 1 says “this country shall be a democratic, legal and secular state in which the government shall take the form of a presidential republic.”
This country held presidential elections in February. You may have missed the result. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, the incumbent president, won with 97.7% of the vote! Wow! This was also a free and fair multi-party election. Erdoğan’s new constitution will start in a similar way, but there are other lessons he could learn from Gurbanguly, the president of Turkmenistan. So Recep, if you are reading this, here are a few YouTube clips. Watch and learn!
Firstly, you need to be a hero and to be a real hero (just ask President Putin) you need to be able to ride a horse. In this clip you will see a closely contested horse race. Gurbanguly is on the winning horse. It may look like the other horses are not trying hard, but that would be unfair on our champion rider. Unfortunately, as our hero crosses the finishing line, the script goes wrong. He falls off! But luckily he has lots of friends in the crowd who come running to his aid. They may all be secret police – but at least none of them support Gülen! Eventually, one of them has the bright idea to put Gurbanguly in an ambulance.
What do you do when a president has won a free and fair, multi-horse race but is not able to collect the prize because he is in an ambulance? Well, of course, you re-stage the crowd days later, so he can receive the accolade he deserves! (The horse was later arrested, tried and executed for treason!)
Secondly, as well as being able to ride a horse, you need to be able to sing. Have you ever faced this embarrassing situation? There is a very important visitor coming and you are organising a musical performance to mark the occasion. But no matter how hard they practise, the musicians sound really awful. More practice, but still terrible! Cringe!
Don’t worry! Our visitor is none other than Gurbanguly. Not only can he win horse races, but he can sing. Oh can he sing! He grabs the guitar and takes charge like any hero should. A-maz-ing! You may be wondering what the crowd is chanting. “Arkadağa Shohrat! Arkadağa Shohrat” – means ‘Praise to the hero!’ In fact Arkadağ (hero) is Gurbanguly’s preferred name for his subjects to use when addressing him. What a hero!
So Recep, you have a lot to learn. You’re not truly president until the crowds are singing in unison to their hero! If you’re interested Recep you can also Google Arkadağ, our hero, as a champion car racer, a leading cyclist, a bestselling author, an exercise guru, a top DJ and song writer and a circus performer. Don’t be disheartened Recep. You’ve taken the important first step. One day, like our hero, you too could be a great president of a free and democratic nation!