Etyen Mahçupyan in Karar asks if the new constitution that is going to be drafted is going to be the expression of a societal compact or the expression of the will of the side that is politically strongest. In Turkey it has so far always been the latter that has prevailed. A societal compact has eluded us for a very fundamental reason: we have yet not become a “society.” Since the days of Byzantium, we are a people of different cemaat -- fraternities -- who exclusively value their own identities, desires, choices and victimhood. Even though our experience to live alongside the “others” is age-old, our will to live “together” is weak. We have almost no habit of being curious about those who are different, of building relations, of listening and of understanding. Yet the historical dynamic in this geography has been conducive to creating and sustaining differences. Today we are not only facing different ethnicities and sects. There are also different life styles, value systems and mentalities. A societal compact must have a base that includes all of these differences.
Murat Aksoy in Haberdar writes that politics in Turkey has historically not been defined by the left-right axis, but by an axis of change-status quo. And but for a few exceptions, politics in Turkey has been carried out within the realm of the state, that is, with a view to preserve status quo. During AKP’s first term, the party made politics with society, not the state, as its point of reference, which set it apart in the historical context. However, the Arab Spring, and the process that started after the 2011 general election, has resulted in the AKP embracing the state, abandoning society as its point of reference. The main opposition party is not different in this regard. If CHP is going to become a strong rival to Erdoğan/AKP, then the party needs to differentiate itself from statism: it must stand up for society and give voice to the different societal demands, instead of also having the state as its point of reference. And the way to do this is to build coalitions with the different societal sections and groups. CHP should take the initiative to build a democratic coalition, bringing together the victims of Erdoğan, the AKP and the state.
Celal Başlangıç in Haberdar notes that AKP is taking action in parliament to strip especially the HDP parliamentarians of their immunity. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that the move “is against the constitution, but we are nonetheless going to vote in favor of removing the immunity.” Everyone in the party was surprised, even shocked, including some of those who are very close to the CHP leader. Why had Kılıçdaroğlu – who until now had accused President Erdoğan of violating the constitution – decided to be party to this crime? In CHP circles, four answers are suggested to this question: one is that the CHP leader feared that the AKP was going to accuse him of helping “PKK deputies.” Second, he was afraid that the neo-nationalists within CHP would have rebelled otherwise. Third, Kılıçdaroğlu’s own identity – he is Alevi and Kurd – played a role. But the explanation that is mostly discussed is that Kılıçdaroğlu decided to say “yes” after a briefing he received at the General staff. People in the party are saying that Kılıçdaroğlu knew very well – after a meeting earlier during the day with the central committee of the party – that the general tendency was in favor of saying “no” to the AKP’s motion, but that the briefing he was given at the General staff later during the day led was decisive, explaining why he went on television in the evening to tell that CHP was going to vote “yes.”
Hasan Cemal writes in t24 that Erdoğan’s agenda is more or less the same as the agenda of the regime of military tutelage in the past. Turkey has so far not been able to face up to its military problem. To this day, no one has been held accountable for the 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997 military coups, nor for the string of assassinations during these decades. And regarding the military itself, it has neither questioned its own tradition of coups nor engaged in any kind of self-criticism. Now, this coup tradition is being covered up by the court decisions to dismiss the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases. And it is Erdoğan who is doing the covering. But the problem is not disappearing. The military problem remains unsolved, and it cannot be brushed under the carpet. If we want to clear the way for democracy and the rule of law in Turkey, then we need to face up to the military problem and solve it, just as much as there is need to fight against Erdoğan.
By Gareth H. Jenkins
April 20, 2016
Although the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) are ideologically affiliated, they remain organizationally distinct. Even though it does not pose a direct security threat to Turkey, the PYD’s increasing consolidation of power in northern Syria arguably poses a challenge not only to Ankara but also to the PKK.
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.