2015 vision for Turkish politics

2015 vision for Turkish politics

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
2015 vision for Turkish politics

The CHP is heading toward an important congress in a few weeks. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (C) will renew the party administration. DHA photo

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will hold their big congresses before the end of the year. After the parliamentary recess, the CHP will select its front desk in the middle of this month; the AKP and MHP will choose theirs in fall. In the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), unless there is an extraordinary call, they have more than a year for a congress. 

The congresses of the AKP, CHP and MHP are happening at a significant crossroads of an extremely critical future. Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, in these historic congresses, will select the officials who will carry their parties to 2015. Within this timeframe, the ballot box will be waiting for voters first in 2014 for local elections, then the presidential vote and in 2015, general elections. 

Putin-Medvedev model?

Prime Minister Erdoğan, due to the three-term rule in the party statute, will become a candidate for the last time in fall. Erdoğan will give a strong message, maybe for the first time, about his presidential prospects. 
With the new party administration he has formed, he will also have strong responses to these questions: Will he become the president in this system or the presidential system? Will he retire? What kind of an AKP will be there after him? Will he apply the Putin-Medvedev model with Abdullah Gül? 

Because of the three-term rule, those famous, known names will not come to the front. Erdoğan will also be disclosing the 2022 road map with the new names he will add to the party administration. He is expected to make a change in the Cabinet and also change the Parliament administration with the party congress. Erdoğan, with the new administration he will select, will both ease the heavy burden of 10 years and provide renewal and also have the staff who will decide on the 2022 vision of his party. When looking at the short, 10-year history of the AKP, the fall congress is as important a landmark as the founding congress in 2001. 

The CHP is heading toward an important congress, as significant as the AKP’s, in a few weeks. Kılıçdaroğlu will renew the party administration. Baykal-Sav do not have their former power. Kılıçdaroğlu also enters the congress without any rivals. Despite this, the ultranationalist wing, uncomfortable with party politics, will try to place their candidates in the party assembly if there is an open list. Kılıçdaroğlu, with the new administration that he will select through his delegates, will manage the 2014 local elections and Çankaya (presidential mansion) elections. Their performance in these elections, a probable success or failure, will also determine the process on the way to 2015. For this reason, Kılıçdaroğlu takes this process seriously and is trying to form a good administration that will be able to guide the party. He is trying to form an influential party assembly with a wide spectrum from the business, science, labor and art worlds. 

Apparently MHP leader Bahçeli will enter the fall congress without any rivals. For Bahçeli, who opposed the recent initiatives for a solution to the Kurdish problem and who continued his support from the grassroots by escalating the extreme nationalist discourse, this is maybe the last congress curve to turn in the 2015 process. If he strengthens the party administration well enough and achieves a success in the local elections, the MHP will not be looking for a leader in 2015. Otherwise, figures such as Koray Aydın and Mansur Yavaş, who are waiting backstage, will join the race for leadership due to pressure from the grassroots.

Is Kurtulmuş’s name a message?

A Numan Kurtulmuş wind has blown in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) corridors.

Kurtulmuş said nothing had been offered to him and that he did not know of any offer. Kurtulmuş had, before the 2007 elections, received an offer from Erdoğan to become a deputy. There is a group within the AKP that wants to see Kurtulmuş as the party leader after Erdoğan. Again, within the AKP, there is a much stronger group that wants to see Gül in the same position after Erdoğan.

The whispers in the corridors are quite interesting: “The group that wants Kurtulmuş after Erdoğan has taken action. Maybe they want to, in a way, take measures against Gül. They reminded people about Kurtulmuş and gave a message to those who are calculating the post-Erdoğan era.”

Conscientious objection criterion

As a result of pressure from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the government launched a study on the topic of “conscientious objection.” The study is expected in Parliament in October.

However, the information roaming has shown that there will not be a right to conscientious objection in a sense similar to international practice. Defense Minster İsmet Yılmaz gave some details last week while a bill on an amendment to the law on military academies was debated in Parliament. He said, “The study on conscientious objection is focused on avoiding the results of ECHR convictions. We have a study on recognizing the option of either military service or punishment.” Obviously, the criterion of the government for conscientious objection is going to be squeezed between “punishment or military service.”