Antayka, 2011. Photo: Gülşin Ketenci
"The Speakers' Corner on Elections" and its predecessor "The Elections Bus" are unique television formats that aired in Turkey in the run-up to the local and national elections in 2009, 2011 and 2015.
They are unique because the current restrictive policy of the Turkish government no longer permits such broadcasts. The structure and style of the format are also exceptional: a pulpit is set up in the middle of the town or a metropolis district. The voters are invited to express their opinions about the candidates, political parties and their expectations. The candidates are also allowed to discourse but as mere voters. Each may speak for a maximum of three minutes. Afterwards, the listeners ask questions. If the discussion turns bitter, sweets are distributed among the speakers and audience to sugar the atmosphere. Should anybody express any racist or sexist, the sound PA system will immediately be turned off. Supporting programmes with music, street theatre, folklore or culinary specialities from the respective region were organised to attract audiences.
Nedim Hazar and various editors of the Turkish network NTV, including Kemal Can developed these formats. While “The Speakers’ Corner” was aired three times a week “The Bus” was a daily programme. Recorded in all regions of Turkey, these programs became a hit in the television landscape. They were serious and funny at the same time and reflected the secret passion of the Turkish and Kurdish population to get actively get involved in politics.
During the parliamentary elections in 2015, “The Speakers’ Corner” was broadcast on the liberal channel IMC-TV. This channel was banned entirely a few months later.
Director of Photography
The Speakers’ Corner
The NTV Elections Bus
This original format developed for the 2009 local elections, was an arena for voters to express their opinions about candidates, political parties and current events in a bus. Regular bus lines in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Antalya were converted into “elections buses” and technically converted into a mobile TV studio. The passengers passionately discussed with each other on their way to work or other errands, in front of running cameras - not only about current politics. The recordings were abridged and aired the following day.