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 the Editors (vol. 1, no. 3 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey’s regime crisis, ongoing since 2007, has reached an unprecedented, dangerous level. If not checked, it could threaten recent advances in Turkish democracy. Indeed, the Turkish state itself shows signs of breaking up into confrontation along ideological lines. Turkey is adrift, putting extra strain on the country’s partners, the European Union and the United States. They need to reexamine their assumptions about the character of the Turkish crisis and its protagonists, and draw policy conclusions that will serve theirs and Turkey’s interests in the long term.
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.
Prime Minister Erdoğan’s leadership style is the subject of many comments. Eyüp Can in Radikal claims that Erdoğan wants to become Turkey’s second founding father after Atatürk. He observes that Turkey does not need another “father” who would rule with an iron fist, and that the country is too diverse for such an attempt to succeed. Murat Belge in Taraf, meanwhile, points to the societal foundations of Erdoğan’s ambitions. He suggests that the lack of democratic culture among the rural bourgeoisie that is the main force behind AKP sustains the drive to impose a majoritarian system. Meanwhile, Yüksel Taşkın in Taraf sees hope emerging that the urban bourgeoisie – the Kemalists – is going to promote democratic values, as this would conform to its class interests.
By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 7, no. 5 of the Turkey Analyst)
Recent amendments to the Turkish Criminal Code have resulted in the provisional release of more than 30 of the defendants in the notorious Ergenekon court case. In the new political climate created by the power struggle between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the followers of the exiled Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, those released appear unlikely to have to return to prison. Nevertheless, even if they eventually all collapse, the repercussions of Ergenekon and the other politically motivated cases spawned by the Gülen Movement are likely to haunt Turkey for years to come.
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.