Selen Gülün is a mayoral candidate who seeks no votes! A successful musician, she is a candidate for mayor for the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality, just because a civil society initiative wants to monitor the election process to make sure that there is no vote rigging on the March 30 local elections, and the only way for doing it was to show a mayoral candidate. “I’ve become an independent candidate for mayor of İstanbul. Of course, I seek no votes, and I’ve also become a volunteer for the ‘Sandık Başındayız’ [Ballot Watch], so I will work on March 30 to monitor the voting process,” says Gülün. Başındayız reminds us that there is a dire need for independent civil society organizations in Turkey’s highly polarized environment. Their survival and growth would mean that Turkish society deserves to exercise full citizenship rights in a pluralistic setting.
Our interview took place before Twitter was blocked by the government, which has drawn huge reactions both from Turkey and the world.
After the ban, Gülün answered more questions as she highlighted the need to use social media channels for the civil society to get organized and take action.
“Twitter is the social medium which has pushed me and a lot of people like me, who have been pacified, to be activists again in Turkey,” she says. “We can talk about transparency only if there is an environment in which people can express themselves openly. Only then can individuals and the government have trust in each other. It is impossible to understand how there is an effort to restrict or eliminate it.”