AK Party’s wish to regain its ‘lost’ image

AK Party’s wish to regain its ‘lost’ image

İsmet Berkan iberkan@hurriyet.com.tr
It needs to be said, the intervention style of the government in the Gezi incidents has been a milestone in terms of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) rule.

As columnist Ali Bayramoğlu wrote at daily Yeni Şafak yesterday, the government’s behavior during the Gezi Park incidents, at one point, shattered its democratizing, reformist image. The government noticed this situation; it released a “democratization package” in September. This package gave some breathing space for the government to a certain extent.

However, right after that, this time, the Dec. 17 operation and the government’s harsh interference with the police and the judiciary came. The “democrat” image that was about to be recovered was once again shattered. Severe criticism started to come from Europe to America.

The government is once again looking for a remedy in a democratization package. Now, the government has decided to revoke the anti-terror law, which should have been abolished way back in 2005 when the new Turkish Penal Code was introduced. Meanwhile, the government also decided to entirely scrap the specially authorized courts. Both of them are correct, but belated moves.

However, as long as interference with the judiciary and ongoing investigations continue, it is very difficult for these moves to regain the image AK Party has lost, because the issue has suddenly stopped being an advancing democracy with partial moves. The threshold to convince everyone that AK Party is seeking a true democracy, not an authoritarian order has also gone up very high.

Frankly, the AK Party government is entrapped as it has never been before. It cannot divert to authoritarianism; the Western pressure and more importantly the economic situation prevent this. It cannot head for establishing democracy and rule of law properly, because it is afraid of losing its control in the graft investigations.

Is AK Party looking for an ally?

The democratization moves bring this question to mind: Is AK Party looking for an ally for itself? Let’s say it does. Who would be these allies? Can it be the military? The retrials of these cases such as Ergenekon and Balyoz bring this possibility to mind, but the “ultranationalist” segment’s helping them in their fight against the “community” is a far possibility.

The AK Party lost the left, liberal, secular segments in Turkey during the Gezi incidents. Can they be won back? That’s questionable. The Kurdish political movement? Yes, it may be, but now they have also started declaring their own conditions. The West? Yes, but up to a point…

Large distance needed

It is not very easy for the government and the AK Party to go back to their “happy days.” Water under the bridge. However, to be cleaned of the corruption accusations of Dec. 17 or putting serious distance between the government and this graft can change some things.

The government is trying to make these claims forgotten, but they are not to be forgotten. The indictment of Dec. 17 is ready as well. The removal of prosecutors can only delay the announcement of this indictment for a short while.

When the indictment is released, Turkey will not be speaking of any other thing for weeks.
AK Party will have to sit through this test; there is no other way out.

İsmet Berkan is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published Jan 31. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.