Turkish opposition’s nightmare: Syriza and Tsipras
Turkey’s leftists and secular middle-class voters may be overjoyed and excited about the Syriza victory next door. But it is actually a nightmare for the upper ranks of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and other small opposition parties like Emine Ülker Tarhan’s Anadolu Party (AP). I am leaving Doğu Perinçek’s Labor Party outside of this duo for a specific reason.
First of all, Syriza’s leader is a complete anti-thesis of the CHP and the AP. Tsipras has been in politics since his 20s, but he has not changed his political position, he has not moved from one party to another. He does not belong to a bureaucratic elite or a political dynasty. By these credentials, he would have ZERO (and I MEAN ZERO) chance inside the CHP or the Anadolu Party.
The CHP’s leading party operatives probably have started scratching their heads with the fear that their youth and women’s organizations my actually swing to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) at this election, which should not be a big surprise. Imagine a party that cries like a baby for even just a tiny few “center-right” votes, so that even Tansu Çiller’s former ministers and MPs are lining up to be on the CHP’s list this June. CHP Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is such a big fan of former President Süleyman Demirel that he could actually even resurrect the Adalet Party from the grave. Would you, as a Gezi supporting, white-collar professional, or as a coal mine worker, go and vote for these guys? I wouldn’t.
Then comes the religion factor. An atheist as a prime minister? Tsipras must be the CHP’s worst nightmare. The CHP’s higher ranks are so obsessed with the usage of Islamic discourse that they are losing their own base and middle class urban voters to the HDP. Some of Kılıçdaroğlu’s advisors are using every opportunity to pretend to be or look “pious.” But I have sad news for you, gentlemen: The voters are not buying it. And your solid 18 percent base is actually selling you. This is how PASOK died in Greece. But then again, they were a dynasty, and royalty dies one way or another. Look at the Gandhi family and the Congress Party in India. If even they can vanish, so can any other party.
I was talking with Ayşe Acar, a great sociologist friend of mine, about how the real fear about the CHP is that if the party disappears, we fear that Atatürk and his success will be destroyed. “Baseless childhood fears,” Ayşe said smiling. “Atatürk’s legacy is so big that the opposition parties cannot even totally understand it.” My theory is that if Atatürk had lived today, he could have been a minister in the Syriza cabinet, but not an MP in the CHP. Never...
Last but not least, one final word on Ms. Emine Ülker Tarhan: If you did not even bother to attend the historic corruption vote in parliament, then take the stand, rock the house, make history - but you practically have no place in the opposition. You have taken your side. All the efforts of my colleague Ayşe Arman, and her five interviews with you, will not make you a leader. And if you refuse to even shake hands, you will never be a politician. Tsipras is your nightmare as well.