By Kadri Gürsel (vol. 4, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
Polarizing the society over religious and cultural identities has been the power tactic of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) almost all along. That tactic once again worked to the benefit of the AKP in the recent general election. But the daunting constitutional challenge that Turkey now faces requires an ability to reach across divides of identity. The new, difficult parliamentary arithmetic in a highly divided political terrain heralds tough times as the new Turkey searches for its soul.
By M. K. Kaya (vol. 4, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
The June 12 general election was historic as it was the first general election in Turkey over which the shadow of the military and the other institutions of tutelage did not fall. Yet the ruling party’s tactics ensured that the election campaign still took place in an environment whose atmosphere was all but democratic. The elections underlined Turkey’s traditional split between a rightist majority and a leftist minority; it also showed that the AKP and the Kurdish BDP – the election’s main winner – both benefited from the polarized electoral environment; further, the main opposition CHP’s impossibly eclectic crop of candidates had too little of a common denominator to challenge the AKP. It will now be up to the new parliament to put the divisive campaign behind it and achieve a new constitution through compromise. Whether that is at all likely nevertheless remains doubtful.
By Andrew Finkel (vol. 4, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
At 12 June’s general election, Turkey’s governing Justice and Development party (AKP) pulled off a rare political hat trick, securing a third consecutive parliamentary majority and doing so with an ever-increasing share of the popular vote. The result is a clear endorsement of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose style and personality continues to dominate Turkish politics. It is also his answer to a growing chorus of critics at home but also abroad who accuse him of having abandoned his party’s EU-oriented reform agenda in favour of an increasingly centralised and autocratic style of rule. The AKP is now the party of the new urban middle class. The party is literally building its own constituency, a process in which the opposition finds it hard to engage.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 10 of the Turkey Analyst)
There is a grim irony to the fact that while the AKP’s 2007 victory represented a defeat for the military, victory four years later requires that the ideology – Turkish nationalism – that upholds militarism not be challenged. The AKP’s appeasement of Turkish nationalism lays bare the limits of how far Turkey’s democratization can be extended. Meanwhile, the army’s unprovoked offensive against Kurdish guerillas in the southeast of the country reveals how the manipulation of the Kurdish issue serves as a lever for perpetuating the power of the military.
By Peter G. Laurens (vol. 4, no. 10 of the Turkey Analyst)
Less than a month from now, Turkish citizens will go to the polls to cast their votes in the Republic’s seventeenth general election. Economic problems are often the catalyst for political change worldwide and in Turkey this is no exception, but in the country at present there is precious little bad economic news for opposition parties to exploit in attempting to weaken the ruling party’s chances at victory.
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.