By Gareth H. Jenkins
November 10th, 2015, The Turkey Analyst
The November 1 general election was a victory for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) rather than for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Although he is likely to try to use the AKP’s parliamentary majority to try to push ahead with his plans for an autocratic presidential system, the result showed that he has no popular mandate for one.
By Halil Karaveli
November 3rd, 2015, The Turkey Analyst
The combination of military and deep state operations has rescued the power of the AKP, restoring its majority in parliament. Now, it is in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s interest to call back the army from the Kurdish areas and offer the Kurds some kind of carrot, after wielding the stick has had the desired effect. The future stability of the AKP regime is to a significant extent going to depend on its success – or lack thereof – in coping with the Kurdish challenge. The all powerful Turkish president should probably not assume that he and his regime is out of the woods just because the Kurdish voters were intimidated back into the fold this time.
Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet argues that the HDP, despite appearances, is not a leftist party, but a Kurdish nationalist party. Just like the AKP, the HDP is playing the religious card heavily in the fanatically Islamic Kurdish areas. As a social democrat party, the CHP, for instance, is not using religion to collect votes. The heavy Islamist emphasis of the HDP, which has built up a myth that presents itself as a “leftist party,” can only be explained with Kurdish nationalism. A policy that focuses on Kurdishness will also aim at “bringing together all the different colors of the Kurdish nation.” The HDP’s calls for radical democracy sound nice to the ear. They are asking for democracy, and a radical one at that! But when you look at the contents of their radical democracy all you see is identity politics. What they are calling for us is liberty for the identities! There is no citizenship, no nation-state, only an absurdity, a “federation of identities.” The display may look nice, but when you search what is inside, separatism is in the forefront.
Nuray Mert in Cumhuriyet notes that former deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç in an interview has given vent to his frustration with the fact that the AKP has been taken over by latecomers to the cause. How can it be that Arınç and others have not come out and said “We cannot continue like this” when the same people could break away from their leader Necmettin Erbakan at the end of the 1990s? Why was it easier to abandon Erbakan, who was the victim of a severe and unjust coup (the military intervention in 1997) than it has been to break off from an AKP that has degenerated but is still in power? In this light, Arınç’s statements have no serious meaning. What he is saying is basically “newcomers have taken over the party, nobody listens to us anymore.” Can we thus also conclude that there is nothing principled behind Arınç’s outburst or Gül’s famous “concerns?” Undoubtedly, there is. Both men see the problems with AKP’s current position. But this does not mean that they lack responsibility for AKP’s trajectory. Everything cannot be blamed on Erdoğan.
Haldun Gülalp in Birikim asks what is going to happen if the AKP – as expected – loses the election, but still refuses to give up power. And what will happen if the president makes efforts in order not to give the winning parties the opportunity to form a government? Even though few take this seriously anymore, a military coup should never be dismissed. As the military has educated itself to view itself as the “savior” of the country, we need to take into account that it can easily become the only alternative in situations of crisis that appear to be unsolvable. The military may find internal bloodletting unbearable and may impose itself in the name of the preservation of order and stability, and it may be successful in securing these goals. In such a situation, there is not going to be any other institutional power center that can stand in the way of the military. Is there a democratic solution that will remove such and other risks?
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.