Tension rises in Turkish politics

Tension rises in Turkish politics

The recent rise in tension in Turkish politics could be analyzed on two layers; between the government and the opposition and within the government bodies.

Tension between the government and the opposition parties was sparked by an education bill changing the structure of the primary and secondary education system radically. The idea is to focus on vocational training in order create a trained workforce for industry like the ones in Europe. Especially the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has been criticizing the bill mainly because it decreases the age of choice for vocational training which might cause ‘child workers and child brides.’ Acting upon the criticism from industry spokespersons who claimed the act would lead ‘child labor and child brides,’ and also manipulate the country into a more religious one, since Muslim imam schools are regarded as vocational training schools.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in Parliament yesterday he would be happy to see a more religious society but never put pressure on anyone for that. He accused the CHP of putting pressure on religious people during the single party CHP regime during 1930s and ‘40s and also turning a blind eye to the military involving conspiracies to overthrow the government. He also accused the CHP leader Kemal Kılçdaroğlu of denouncing the Turkish government abroad.

Kılıçdaroğlu snapped at this accusation and wove to tell the wrongdoings of the Erdoğan government all around the world, accusing him of being a ‘post-modern dictator.’ Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) went so far as claiming the anti-democratic behavior of Erdoğan’s government has ‘outstripped the Nazi times.’

Because of this tension, Erdoğan postponed Parliament’s vote on the bill -which was supposed to be held this week- to the last week of March. That is considered in the political corridors also as a gesture to Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek, who is afraid the tension could poison the efforts to write a new constitution in which all four parties (including the Kurdish problem-focused Democratic Society Party-DTP) take part.

Within the government bodies, the most interesting indication was a joint statement yesterday by the General Directorate of Police (Emniyet) and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), a first of its kind, saying that there was no problem between them and they share every kind of information and cooperate excellently against terrorism. The same day there were reports that an army brigadier general who is supposedly in charge of assessment of the aerial intelligence after which 34 villagers were hit by jets, mistaken for outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants on Iraqi border in December 2011. Both developments took place following a top security meeting in Istanbul March 11.

Considered together with the Ankara visit of David Petraeus, the head of the American Central Intelligence Agency, yesterday, mainly focusing on Syria, one can also conclude that Erdoğan’s postponing of an inner crisis might be in preperation of a larger-scale security action in coming weeks.