Turkey is no Belgium

Turkey is no Belgium

Of course, you don’t need to read this column to know that. Turkey’s per capita GDP is only a fifth of that of Belgium.

Our economy has been declared part of the “fragile five,” while Belgium is safely embedded in the EU’s currency and trade union. Belgium also does not have any neighbors like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In one respect, however, we seem to be on track to join Belgium: We take our time to form coalitions. Notoriously, after their December 2011 general election, it took the Belgians 541 days to form a coalition. 

Turkey had its own election on June 7 this year. The incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its majority in parliament for the first time since 2002, which was very exciting to everyone involved.

Fresh opportunity to revive 'fragile economy'

One month later, it seems that a thick, sleepy haze has descended on Ankara. Having lived through decades of coalition-building processes in the past, I have to say I cannot remember any as slow as this one.

There is an undeserved sense of ease in the air, an utter lack of urgency. It’s unsettling.

There is a lot at stake here. The election results presented a sorely needed opportunity for the fragile Turkish economy to start over again, to have a strong new storyline. A slow government transition risks that opportunity. 

Why? Is it Ramadan? Fasting can have that collectively soporific effect, especially toward the end of the month. The dates of Ramadan move 10 days every year, and hot summer Ramadans are especially though. June 21, the longest day of the year, was part of the fasting month this year.

Old gov't keeps meeting with president

The last time it was this long was about 30 years ago. 

I understand that things do slow down a little during Ramadan. But the coalition process shouldn’t be so slow - not when the stakes are so high.

Over a month has passed since June 7. We are still waiting to see how Turkey is to be governed. 

What has the government been saying? Nothing much really. They tell you a story about technical details about the formal operation of parliament. The speaker needs to be elected first, they say, and then the administration of the new parliament has to be set. That’s when you can get to a new government. The problem is that all of this has taken more than a month. We have yet to see a government that represents this new parliament. 

Meanwhile, the old government continues to meet with the president. There must be a reason why they are stalling the process, other than their post-election chagrin. It should make everyone else uneasy. 

So Turkey acts like Belgium, but it has nowhere near the luxuries that the latter possesses. The opposition should snap out of whatever haze it is in and move the process along.