The end of smear politics in Turkey

The end of smear politics in Turkey

You must not criminalize half of the nation for its preferences. You must not say they side with terrorists. You must not demonize them, see them as enemies, and accuse them of being traitors. 

You must not say they are “not native or national.” You must not accuse them of siding with crusaders, or being a tool of foreign powers, German spies, servants to the English...

But the genie is out of the bottle. The Pandora’s Box is open. It is now difficult to put those who did not say “yes” in the April 16 referendum back in the box. 

They cannot all be considered as being from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), as among them are also supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). 

You cannot assign one religious or sectarian identity to them, as you can find both Alevis and Sunnis among them. You cannot reduce the result to an ethic identity, to a question of Turks and Kurds. 

You cannot explain to result through the prism of lifestyles. There are secularists as well as religious people in the “no” camp. There are conservatives and liberals. It was not ideology that brought them together.

The CHP led the “no” campaign, but you cannot identify all “no” votes with the CHP. We are not talking about votes given to the CHP, but rather votes cast against the constitutional change package.

The expiration of identity politics

The old style of politics has expired. There is a need for a new way of convincing.

All the cards of identity politics were played in the campaign. All the tools of polarization politics were used. All means of black propaganda were used. This is the result.

The tactics of polarization reached their limit, the point of exhaustion. Populism and demagogy were used to the maximum extent but they were not able to win more votes. 

It is now time to engage in damage control through a more realistic politics.

The ‘yes’ and ‘no’ camps must now make peace

The outcome for the “yes” camp is probably “the worse of the best situation.” For the “no” camp the result is probably “the best of the worst situation.”

Neither said can now afford to ignore, underestimate or neglect the other side. This balance could change the opportunity to fight into an advantage. Neither side was able to reach the kind of percentage that would make the other side throw in the towel.

Neither side was able to win to their full and uncontested satisfaction. Both sides are having a hard time accepting the will of the other side, digesting and internalizing it.

Steps must now be taken to decrease the tension and bring the two sides together. It is no longer an issue of imposing though politics. 

Not recognizing the result will only strengthen the “yes” side. Ignoring the “no” side will only strengthen the “no” camp. Both sides need to find a formula to reconcile the two sides. 

Getting angry and depressed will not help the solution. Satisfactory explanations will address suspicions of fraud. From now on, only an approach that takes into consideration the other side, which offers rhetoric that takes the other side seriously, will be able to address hesitations and reservations.

It is the joint responsibility of the government and the opposition to take Turkey out of this point. They need to work together.