Possible political changes in Turkey in 2013

Possible political changes in Turkey in 2013

Extrapolating the tendencies from 2012, there could be four possible changes in Turkish politics in the year to come – two in foreign affairs and two in domestic fields.

In domestic politics, the possible fault lines of change can be found on the Kurdish issue and the presidential powers.

In the Kurdish problem in 2012, the main issue seemed to be the close talks between the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the government. If the talks bear any fruit, it could be a breakthrough in a chronic problem for the country. With possible support from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which is focused on the Kurdish problem, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) could combine it with a parliamentary effort to write a more democratic Constitution. But if the talks fail for the second time after 2009-10, there might be more violence, and the government could search for more hard-line solutions with possible support from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The main political debate in 2013 is likely to center on power-sharing between the president and the prime minister, following the presidential election in 2014. The AK Parti is putting pressure on the three other parliamentary parties, saying Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan could use all the existing power and acquire vast immunity when (and if) he is elected as president in 2014, and asking them to agree to talk on a new presidential system as Erdoğan desires.

On the foreign scene, one of the possible areas of change might be in relations with Israel – which is dependent on an apology from any new Israeli government following the country’s Jan. 22 elections. There have been small but mutual steps toward a possible normalization of relations as evidenced by the easing of Turkey’s veto on Israel in relations with NATO and Israel’s easing of an embargo on the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

The other change might be the revival of Turkey’s (and possibly Brazil’s) role in nuclear talks with Iran. The new Barack Obama administration in the United States has seemingly convinced Israel that an Israeli attack on Iran would only worsen the situation. On the other hand, analysts in Washington have been telling Obama for some time that any military move on Iran – unless it were a practically impossible occupation – would only succeed in delaying Tehran and only for a short while. Therefore, diplomacy based on an exchange of enriched uranium might come back to the diplomatic scene in 2013.