By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 9 of the Turkey Analyst)
In late April 2011, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) announced their manifestos for the Turkish general election on June 12, 2011. It is rare for political parties to deliver on all of their pre-election commitments; and many of the promises in both documents are anyway manifestly unworkable. Nevertheless, the content of the CHP’s manifesto demonstrates how far it has moved – in rhetoric at least – towards becoming a fully-fledged social democratic party since Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu became leader in May 2010. But, for the AKP, which currently appears set to win a comfortable majority on June 12, it is not its promises but its silences that cause the most concern; particularly its failure even to formulate policies to address the deepening alienation of the country’s Kurdish minority.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 7 of the Turkey Analyst)
Agreeing upon the rules for how they are going to live together, with mutual respect for differences, is the fundamental challenge that faces the citizens of Turkey. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has pledged that the authoritarian constitution will be replaced with a new, “civilian” constitution following the general election in June. Yet a truly “civilian” constitution must be a societal covenant, of which Turkey has had no prior experience. The question is if the people of Turkey will be able to surprise each other with restraint and generosity.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 7 of the Turkey Analyst)
On the afternoon of March 30, 2011, Zekeriya Öz, the chief prosecutor in the controversial Ergenekon investigation, was abruptly removed from the case by the Turkish Justice Ministry. The decision came after a month in which allegations of links to Ergenekon had once again been used to try to silence critics of the exiled Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. On the morning of March 30, 2011, police acting on Öz’s orders had raided the homes and offices of seven theologians opposed to Gülen. On March 3, Öz had triggered domestic and international outrage by ordering the arrest of eleven journalists and academics who had been critical of Gülen and subsequently attempting to erase all copies of an unpublished book about him.
By Joshua Walker (vol. 4, no. 6 of the Turkey Analyst)
In stark contrast to its support for the protest movements in Egypt and Tunisia, Turkey has abstained from taking a principled, democratic stand in the case of Libya. Turkey has opposed the imposition of sanctions and military measures against the Libyan regime. The failure of the Turkish government to live up to the democratic ideals that purportedly guide its policy toward the Middle East reveals the limits of a foreign policy which seeks to balance ideals and “realism”. Ultimately, the effect of Turkey on regional dynamics will only be as strong as its ideals and principles.
By Kerem Öktem (vol. 4, no. 5 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey remains an “Angry nation”, tormented by the many ghosts of its history, some of which still lurk in the shadows. Its political system is characterized by deep polarization, and it is by no means certain that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will go on to dismantle the edifice of state tutelage bequeathed by the “guardians” who have now been put on the defensive as never before in the history of the republic. Yet even if the country’s immediate prospects remain ambiguous, the people of Turkey have nonetheless used the ballot box several times to successfully defy authoritarianism and military diktats. That deserves to serve as an inspiration for others in the Middle East.
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.