Ekrem İmamoğlu is not Superman
Superman has a special place among superheroes. Although everyone might have a different favourite hero, the truth is that the Man of Steel is like a blueprint for all other superheroes. This comes up in a lot of comic books and animated series.
Whatever situation he’s in, Superman always does the right thing, and despite the fact that he may be the most powerful being in the universe, he never solves his problems with killing.
There are two exceptions to this. One is that Superman dies in the battle with Doomsday, and the other is the Man of Steel movie, directed by Zack Snyder and written by Davis S. Goyer.
In the first example, Superman had to stop Doomsday’s endless destruction by killing him, but lost his own life in the process.
In the second example, the plan for that film was completely different, as explained by Christopher Nolan, one of the producers. In Man of Steel, Superman kills his enemy General Zod; in the planned sequels, he was going to feel such tremendous regret that he would transform into something else, as we know from the comic books. However, Warner Bros. had different ideas and the sequels were never made.
In his adventures, Superman is still the only one who can stop himself from deviating from truth and justice. It’s Superman from another dimension who can stop the Man of Steel after he goes to the dark side. There’s also this: Superman doesn’t get mixed up in politics and in fact always distances himself from politics and politicians. He is perhaps the only DC character who does this successfully.
On 26 June, following the redo of the Istanbul Mayoral election, Superman once again came into our lives, but in a different way this time. The winning candidate, Ekrem İmamoğlu, suddenly appeared as Superman in drawings and photographs all over social media.
The most well-known of these memes is a photo of İmamoğlu taking off his jacket during a speech following the cancellation of the first elections; this photo is placed next to an image of Superman pulling off his shirt to reveal his famous costume. Although the similarity is amusing, within a short time, we started to see a group of voters expecting İmamoğlu to be Superman because his success was so meaningful.
One important accomplishment in the renewed elections was that Ekrem İmamoğlu beat his main contender Binali Yıldırım by over 10%; the first time round, he only won by 2%, meaning the public truly embraced him the second time.
Another major achievement is that İmamoğlu, a member of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), won back Istanbul after 21 years of Justice and Development Party (AKP) dominance; CHP, which has been the opposition party for years, once again seems to appeal to people.
It is also very meaningful that AKP, for the first time since the party was founded, has lost the city that’s the heart of the Turkish economy. This is AKP’s first serious defeat in 17 years, and some are saying it’s the beginning of the end for them.
Because of all these reasons, Ekrem İmamoğlu is suddenly at the top of the agenda. We read news about him every day now. It’s as though not even a day can pass without seeing him on TV or news websites.
There are a lot of people who immediately started to see Ekrem İmamoğlu as the future leader of the country, and they imagine him as some sort of saviour; those who voted for him in particular want to see a return to the old days. For this reason, people are quick to criticise everything he does and doesn’t do, forgetting that he’s only the mayor of one city.
To be clear, Ekrem İmamoğlu is not a Superman. He is a politician, and it is a mistake to expect that he will always do the best thing. Considering the situation in which the country currently finds itself, it may be normal for him to toe a more conservative line. In the end though, over the course of his political career, he will continue to run in elections, and he’ll want his voters to continue to support him. Also, it’s not just him that won the election—his team was excellent, and their contributions were a major factor in his victory. It’s also important to remember the supporters of other parties who voted for him.
In recent days, everyone is talking about how İmamoğlu didn’t tweet anything in support of 30 June’s Pride March; for the 2 June anniversary of the 1993 Sivas Massacre, when religious extremists burned 33 intellectuals alive in a hotel, his tweet referred to the massacre as a “painful event.” Some social media users even reminded him that he’d previously called the burning of the Madımak Hotel a “massacre” and wanted him to say this again even though İmamoğlu had already referred to the burning of the Madımak Hotel as a massacre.
It’s not known whether or not İmamoğlu will rise to a higher position in the future, just as it can’t be known if he will abandon his conservative identity and its related trappings as his political career moves forward. He could become President in the future, but he doesn’t seem willing to change the perception that alcohol shouldn’t be sold in Istanbul’s municipal entertainment facilities or that men and women should use public pools at separate times. When he takes his seat as mayor, he may not stop praying in his office.
In the end, Ekrem İmamoğlu is a politician, and it would be a mistake to pin our hopes only on him, expecting him to make everything we want into a reality. More important is to pursue critical policies and principles. We’ve already had the painful experience of learning just how wrong it is to see one person as a saviour, to believe the leader knows all, and to think the leader must make all the decisions.
If it happens one day that İmamoğlu changes his attitudes towards the minorities in this country, if he starts using divisive instead of unifying language, or if he stops talking about the importance of justice, it will utterly break the spirits of those who view him as a leader and saviour.
For these reasons, let’s not view Ekrem İmamoğlu as Superman, and let’s not allow him to believe it, either. He is a politician, and he will walk the road he knows, according to his own truth. As voters, we can help him by telling him what we want, what we approve of, and what we don’t accept. If he starts doing a lot of things we don’t like, we can use our power to replace him with another politician.
Let’s treat Ekrem İmamoğlu as we’ve treated every other mayor, asking things of him based on how his career is advancing. If things start seeming like the old days, we can easily get someone else to be Mayor because it’s the system that’s important, not the politician.
© Ahval English
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.