The unbearable nonsense of confrontation
Parliamentary elections in Germany have resulted in the fourth consecutive victory of Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has apparently lost considerable support and received the second worst result in elections since 1949. In spite of the loss, however, Merkel still maintains the leading role of her party in the German political system. Consequently, she is likely to lead the next German government for another four years.
The German election system is designed to allow a wide representation of the people’s choices. The election result of Sept. 24 shows that people in Germany have opted for the emergence of a wider representation of political views to carry on. The CDU and Merkel will either try to form a minority government with the support of some parties in the Bundestag or seek for the formation of a new coalition government. Both options require compromise.
The Social Democratic Party (SPD) has immediately announced that it will not enter into a new grand coalition with Merkel’s party. The CDU, on the other hand, will not seek any partnership with the hardliner extreme right political party, namely the “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD). This leaves the other three parties, the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the Greens and the Left party to look for compromises to support the CDU, either in the form of a minority government or through a coalition.
Merkel has two important priorities. First, to maintain the economic sanity that Germany has so skillfully developed in the last 15 years, and second, the unity of the European Union, which has been endangered by factors like Brexit but mainly by increasing anti-EU sentiments and rising populism, nationalism and xenophobia. Merkel certainly will have to take seriously the entry of the AfD into the German parliament, the first time an extreme rightist party achieved such a success since the end of the Second World War.
The AfD’s emergence as the third political party in German politics is perceived as an alarming development. Many believe that confrontational developments of the last couple of months between Germany and Turkey have been exploited by this political party and that its anti-Turkish and anti-Islamist policies will probably affect the conduct of the German parliament in the next legislative term. The composition of the new Bundestag, therefore, is very precarious and will need to be handled with care.
Confrontational politics does not yield constructive and positive outcomes. Turkey not only in domestic politics but also in its foreign policy continues to suffer from that unreasonable choice. Turkey’s image as a facilitator and problem solver has seriously depreciated in the last seven years due to its repetitive errors.
Today, the Middle East is going through another litmus test of choice between confrontation and compromise. The referendum organized yesterday by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq created serious reactions in the region and in the world. In spite of those reactions, however, the KRG did not change its determination and carried on. When politics is reduced to a choice between survival and surrender, this is the likeliest outcome. Action leads to reaction.
In the aftermath of the referendum in Iraq, stability can only be maintained if confrontational policies and threatening narratives can be eased and forward looking, compromising approaches can be tolerated. After all, the former is a prelude to tension, escalation and conflict, whereas the latter is an overture to a symphony of peace, stability, harmony and security.
The result of the German elections and the organization of the KRG referendum in Iraq therefore become important case studies for Turkey to understand, and also perhaps to internalize, the merit in use of diplomatic language. It will help Turkey to overcome the difficulties it faces in its foreign policy. Failing to do so will increase Turkey’s alienation and isolation.