By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 3, no. 10 of the Turkey Analyst)
The abrupt resignation of Deniz Baykal as leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) has radically transformed the Turkish political landscape and triggered a surge in the party’s popularity. It is still too early to predict whether or not the momentum can be sustained until the next general election in 2011, but – for the moment at least – the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) appears to be facing the first credible threat to its grip on power since it first took office in November 2002.
By Halil Magnus Karaveli (vol. 1, no. 19 of the Turkey Analyst)
The opposition Republican people’s party, CHP, long perceived as dogmatically secularist, is now intent on broadening its base and its message. CHP leader Deniz Baykal has made a bold move by enlisting women wearing the headscarf and even the black chador as party members. The overture to veiled women could at best pave the way for a new realignment that contributes to the reconciliation of secularism and religious traditionalism. But it also raises new questions about the future of secularism in Turkey.
By Halil Magnus Karaveli (vol. 1, no. 14 of the Turkey Analyst)
As the hopes that the AKP would get back on the track of reform and democratization recede, there is a real chance that the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) could reinvent itself as a centrist alternative in Turkish politics. There are also encouraging signs that Turkish social democrats realize that they have to revert to their old ways and make peace with Europe.
By the Editors (vol. 1, no. 6 of the Turkey Analyst)
The recent congress of the Republican People’s Party saw the re-election of the party’s increasingly authoritarian leader, Deniz Baykal. A fixture of the political scene who has stayed at the helm after every election he lost, Baykal epitomizes one of the most serious problems of Turkey’s democracy: the dictatorial rule of party chiefs, which prevents both the institutionalization of political parties and healthy policy discussion within them. For this problems to be addressed, both changes in legislation and in political culture will be needed.
By Halil Karaveli (vol. 7, no. 9 of the Turkey Analyst)
Many recognize that the Turkish social democrats, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), need to broaden their appeal. The CHP has long defined its mission as protecting the secular, bourgeois lifestyle. Lately, it has tried to appear more conservative and pro-Islamic. The party assumes that identity politics trumps class politics. However, the successes of the AKP show this assumption to be wrong. The CHP could emulate the example of the AKP and build a coalition of bourgeois and working class interests. A modern social democracy would speak both for bourgeois interests – freedom, individual liberties and a culture that values innovation – and cater to the interests of the working and poor classes. There is no reason to assume that social democracy can never rise again. But first, the CHP needs to rediscover the working class.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.