The latest developments concerning the relations between Germany and Turkey raise the question whether the concept of democratic rights is fully understood. Because democracy is not solely defined by the citizens’ vote but by basic rights that apply to everyone. For instance, the separation of power or the human rights. Talking about the separation of power, a free and healthy press is an essential part of it. Two powerful politicians seem to ignore that and either call respectable press members <<fake news>> or arrest journalists writing critically about the regime. There is one thing Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan have in common: They both benefit from their voters who seem to misunderstand the basic concept of democracy.
Bashing The Press
When it comes to ignoring the separation of power within a democracy, Donald Trump and Recep Erdogan seem to be neck in neck. That is very interesting from a scientific point of view and all the more frightening from a human rights perspective. Especially looking at Erdogan. The role of the press is to be critical, inform and challenge the political measures. Every politician who thinks otherwise is not worth the votes he has gotten within the last election.
Erdogan and Trump have constant arguments with members of the press. Trump’s only option is to ignore them and call respectable members fake, Erdogan puts them in prison accusing them to be terrorists or support terrorist organizations. If these accusations are valid, they should be arrested. But that is a big if.
Teaching Human and Democratic Rights
Every human being is compelled to respect the human rights of the respective fellow human being. A democracy is bound to respect these rights. In Turkey, one can argue that this is not the case. Every democracy is defined by the knowledge people have about basic democratic principles and these principles should be part of education. Every student should learn about the separation of power, respecting the human rights and the democratic process of decision making.
A healthy press is an essential part of the separation of power. The press scrutinizes the process and uncovers things that might have gone wrong. If people really understood the democratic process and their role within it, politicians like Erdogan or Trump would be seen in a very different light.
Education is Essential
Often, we talk about the importance of education for the individual development and for the chance to succeed in life. But education is also very important when it comes to developing the society we live in. Everyone of us has an active role within a democracy and should actively participate in societal changes. That is how a democracy is characterized. If political leaders ignore that, they should not call themselves democratic leaders.