Turks and Kurds doomed to join hands against AKP

Turks and Kurds doomed to join hands against AKP

For those who still have doubts about authoritarianism in Turkey, I strongly recommend they read the recent academic work by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) called “The authoritarianization of the regime and the Justice and Development Party [AKP] rule.”

Those die-hard AKP opponents might be surprised to hear about the presence of those who might have their doubts about the authoritarian nature of the AKP government. But some foreigners for instance who know Turkey’s recent past, the 80’s or the 90’s, have listened with suspicion to those who draw a very dark picture of Turkey.

“When we talk with representatives of the non-Muslim minorities for instance, they do admit that there are still a lot of problems but say they are much better off than in the past,” a European diplomat once told me.

When I raised the issue with Professor Sencer Ayata, who led the team penning the work, he underlined one more time the essential problem of modern day authoritarian regimes: they hide their oppression behind what appears to be “democratic institutions.” In other words, modern day authoritarian rulers are wolves who come disguised under democracy’s sheep’s clothing, to use another scholar’s, Ozan Varol’s, metaphor.

“With modern day authoritarianism, it’s always two steps forward, one step back,” said Ayata, in answer to those who talk about democratic progress under AKP rule. In his meeting with a group of journalist last week, Ayata explained how the AKP’s systematic work which targeted nearly all aspects of life, from education to the media, from the judiciary to the economy, was sliding Turkey into a semi-totalitarian regime.

“Why semi-totalitarian? Why don’t you call it totalitarian, straight?” asked a journalist. “Because to my knowledge, at least 30 percent of the press is still not under the control of the government,” he said, adding Turkish society still harbored a vein of “democratic resistance.”


The 2011 general elections were seen to be extremely critical for AKP opponents. So were the local elections of 2014. The June 7 elections this Sunday are also hugely critical.

Yet the previous elections did not create the outcome desired by those concerned with the AKP’s authoritarianism. Life, however, continued afterwards. The same will be the case on June 8.

Not that I have any special input or insight, but in contrast to those who believe there will be a drop  in the support for the AKP, the ruling party might get much more than expected. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) may remain outside of parliament, which will give a comfortable majority to the AKP.

This is obviously the worst case scenario for Turkish democracy, since the AKP will continue its systematic campaign to maintain its grip on society. Yet life will go on and at that stage, and AKP opponents that are not HDP sympathizers will have three options:

1)      To leave the country

2)      To quietly watch the AKP transform Turkey into a fully totalitarian society

3)      To join hands with the Kurds to resist the AKP’s authoritarian rule.

Those who did not vote for the HDP, arguing that it is the political organ of a terrorist organization, will have to decide who is the biggest separatist and choose between Kurds, who no longer ask for independence but a stronger local rule, and those who want to chase away secularists and create a totalitarian Islamist society.