Is a different Turkey possible?

Is a different Turkey possible?

According to World Bank data, Turkey’s Internet usage rate is 46 percent, which is above the global average. In social media usage, Turkey is at the world average of 45 percent, while 86 percent of Turkish Internet users have a Facebook account. The rate of Turks who say “I used Facebook last week” is 60 percent.

Now, let us look at the Metropoll research company’s survey among voters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). At the top of priorities for all are “human rights and freedoms.” Other topics in the top five are “economic development and welfare," "democratization," "equality in income distribution" and "education.”

In the same survey, 64 percent of the population agrees to a citizenship definition free of ethnicity; 61 percent agrees to education in citizens’ mother tongues. Other issues supported by the majority are joing the European Union and the strengthening of local governments.

Actually, these figures point to the possibility of a new Turkey that is outside daily politics and clashes.  

Global and Local Thought Association (KÜYEREL) hosted a conference last week titled “Government Alternative for a Different Turkey.”

One speaker, Gülseren Onanç from the CHP, citing examples from Global Digital Endeks, said the following: “There is already a different Turkey and one needs to see it. The social structure is far ahead of politics. It is the politician’s duty to understand this Turkey and serve it.”

For instance, according to the Metropoll research, 69 percent of Turkey are against any economic development by destroying nature. A new understanding of democracy must therefore be adopted, Onanç said, adding that the slowcoach state paradigm based on centralization should be broken. She emphasized the necessity for stronger local governments. “While the share of local governments from the central budgets in France is 70 percent, this figure is only 23 percent in Turkey,” she said.

Onanç also listed Turkey’s good governance essentials as “representations, participation, transparency and accountability.”

Meanwhile, HDP assembly member Erol Katırcıoğlu said that with the ending of military tutelage in Turkey, politics conducted through identities had begun. Identities such as Islamist, Kurd and Alevi, which were oppressed until today, have started expressing themselves, said Katırcıoğlu. However, he added that in the latest phase "the government" has emerged as the dominant identity in the country.

The HDP now believes that the Kurds from now on should struggle for democracy instead of over identities, Katırcıoğlu added.

“In this changing world, the period of politics done through the Kurdish identity is coming to an end. The feeling of ‘we’ should evolve now. The new policy is radical democracy, conducting politics through the demands of all identities,” he said.

Moderator Hüseyin Çakır, while he was rounding up the meeting, also said, “A newer Turkey is everybody’s wish, a new Turkey or a different Turkey.”

However, both of these concepts will not mean anything unless the country develops more advanced ideas of democracy, human rights and freedoms. The "new and different" will only be able to be formed by activating shared wisdom.