Turkey’s freefall into the abyss

Turkey’s freefall into the abyss

The defense line that I have had tremendous difficulty keeping for the past few months has collapsed. Three particular developments have dealt a strong blow to my conviction that Turkish democratic resilience was still alive in not surrendering to an authoritarian regime.

The decree giving the president the authority to appoint rectors, the detention – and subsequent arrest – of journalists from Cumhuriyet, and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli’s statements on reinstituting capital punishment have together dashed whatever little hope there was left in me for resistance against an administration with no tolerance for dissent.

Among all these developments, the joining of the MHP’s forces with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been a game changer. From now on, anything is possible.

If, for instance, a few weeks ago I was asked whether the death penalty would be reinstituted, I would have said no. Today, I no longer think so. The reinstitution of capital punishment in Turkey is now a real possibility, along with any development that will accelerate the country’s freefall into the abyss.

On the one hand, we have an individual who will do anything he can to secure the transition to a presidential system – whether it be curbing fundamental freedoms, waging all-out war against the Kurds, or cutting relations with Europe. On the other hand, we have another individual who is leading a movement that is anti-Kurdish, anti-Europe, anti-West and anti-democratic. It’s a perfect match to send Turkey hurtling into right-wing darkness.

But just as I was thinking I had run out of any ammunition to be hopeful, I came across veteran journalist Kadri Gürsel’s analysis, written approximately one year ago. This is what Gürsel, who is sadly currently in jail, wrote: 

“Things cannot go on like this. We know that this regime has no mid-term. Even if the loyalty of his admirers has turned into fanaticism, it will be seen that a personality cult or a social class solidarity alone cannot be enough to keep on its feet a regime that has completely lost its ability to produce security, stability and welfare.

“This is Turkey. This country does not have any immunity against its own problems or the world system. It has neither China’s demographic and industrial immunity, nor Russia’s advantage of natural resources. It has no power to buy the support of the masses who are ready to give up their rights and freedoms in return for living in welfare without working, producing or being innovative and competitive, by giving them shares from the riches that comes from the ground.

“Turkey is destined for democracy, not for this regime.”

I hope my colleague and friend will be proven right.