I heard an anecdote from former Health Minister Recep Akdağ: In his constituency in the eastern province Erzurum, Akdağ was conducting his campaign. One headman of a village told him, “Minister, in these elections, people will pull the government’s ear.” Akdağ responded, “Good, but what if the ear you were supposed to pull is ripped off and you are left with an ear in your hand?”
This is exactly what has happened. The government actually did many wrongs that deserved an ear pulling; the hubris, authoritarian attitudes, political discrimination… the people have ripped off the government’s ear.
There is no government left; Turkey is in search of a coalition.
Once more we will live to see why the president in a parliamentarian system should be supra parties, in a refereeing and respected position. If the political parties had not been so aggressive, if the president had not joined the fight and had stayed above them, then today we would have been more optimistic about the formation of a government. Do you see why a conciliatory culture and the impartiality of the president are important in a parliamentarian system?
Today, we have a president who has conducted a war against opposition parties. We are at such a point that the president is at odds with the opposition. All opposition parties require that the president withdraws to parliamentary system boundaries. This is what the system requires.
The statement President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued on the evening before the day of the election was one that perfectly suited a parliamentarian system president; it addressed all parties. Now, Erdoğan has two options ahead of him.
One is that, because of his political stance, Turkey will not be able to form a coalition and the responsibility of the country remaining without a government will belong to him.
The other option is that he will behave like the president of a parliamentarian system and try to reconcile the parties and act as a referee between them in the politically impartial way required by his post, with political maturity. His public image will also recover. As you may remember, those who approved of how he carried out his presidential duties were down to 38 percent in May 2015, from 47 percent in November 2014.
One of the reasons why our political life is full of tension is that our political culture is a conflicting, aggressive one. You can take a look at our past century, if you wish.
While sociologist Raymond Aron was analyzing France’s past century going through similar fights, he defined the essence of the conflict in a nutshell: “The concept of national will could lead you to freedom and also to despotism. What is important is accepting that rule of law is superior to national will.”
Do we see law, civilized style and reconciliation as superior to “us,” our political ideology? This is the question.
Look, when a coalition is mentioned, everybody’s “red lines” emerge. In societies like Turkey, where the aggressive, conflicting political culture is dominant, the presidential system, as political scientist Juan Linz has cited, will bring harsher conflict and authoritarianism instead of conciliation.
We are obliged to prove that the parliamentarian system is the “manageable democracy” model. We have to adopt cool conciliations rather than exciting conflicts and make them a part of our culture.
A temporary coalition model with certain priorities seems to be more of a possibility. It is too early to make a guess in such a conflicting political tradition.
I can only say that if we are dragged into an “unmanageable democracy” then the bill will be extremely high. This goes for both everybody in politics and the livelihood of us all.