After the impasse of June’s election, in which no coalition was formed or party majority received, Turkey returned to the ballot box this November to decide once again. The result now challenges the very nature of Turkish democracy and the Republic which was established by Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk). It will move it towards a foundation which threatens its secular and democratic principles. AKP, led by Ahmet Davutoglu and his overlord, President Erdogan, succeeded in returning the AKP party to its full parliamentary majority which it temporarily lost in June after a decade of its prevalence. The question is, what now for Turkey?
It is clear to see that the success of AKP was on a combination of international and domestic factors which they were firmly in control of over the summer months. The recent decision to attack Da’esh has allowed the Turkish government to provide a cover for resuming attacks against the militant PKK, Kurdish Worker Party. This enflamed nationalist fervor and saw nationalist voters move from their party of choice, MHP, to AKP which as they guaranteed stability and a hardline against the subversive group. The MHP’s drop in the polls evidently characterises this shift. AKP was always reliant on nationalist votes for its majority and this is no more starkly proven than now.
The clamp down on opposition media on the lead up to the election, under the guise of countering the Gulen movement, and the relatively weak position of CHP (Republican Peoples Party) who still has not found a discourse which appeals to the non-secularist voter coupled to make for an ineffectual opposition. HDP, the Democratic Kurdish based party, had no chance from the beginning given that they could not stage a proper campaign for fear that their members be harmed.
More harrowingly, this writer wonders about the true assailant behind the Ankara bombings at a HDP rally. Da’esh claimed no formal responsibility and the localised nature of the attack leads skeptical minds to accuse the AKP as stirring up trouble to swing the electorate back their way. Its a tall accusation but if you understand this party, government supported terrorism in the realm of possibility.
These international factors which have translated on the ground to a feeling of insecurity among the Turkish people have been utilised by Erdogan and AKP to project an image of stability and security in the midst of surrounding turmoil. The instability, they argued, could not be solved by opposition parties such as the CHP and the HDP, as they struggled to even reach terms on a coalition. My guess is that Erdogan and AKPs bargaining price will have been too high. Coalition in return for support of Erdogan’s aspirations for a new, autocratic, Presidential system is too big a price tag for the opposition.
In each event, domestic and international, Erdogan and AKP have had the opposition and the Turkish people with their backs against the wall. He has played a game in ensuring that if no majority was reached he could unleash threats to the Turkish nation which could only be solved by a return of a majority ruling AKP.
Who will defend Ataturk’s republic? No organised political opposition can seriously challenge the supremacy of AKP and the elimination of the military as a key player in politics has ensured that they cannot act as the ‘state guardians’ and defenders of the republic as they have in the past. The new presidential system Erdogan will undoubtedly enact shall mean an end to the Turkish parliamentary system and Turkish democracy itself. He once said that democracy was a stop for the political train, not its destination. He has no respect for the principles Ataturk formed the Republic on or for the democracy of Turkey itself. Let it go down this November onward, that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a disaster for the political development of Turkey and the assassin of Ataturk’s attainable dream for Turkey.
Image: William John Gauthier