Turkey’s AKP government is about to miss a big chance

Turkey’s AKP government is about to miss a big chance

Turkey’s social democratic main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) filed a complaint to the Constitutional Court on Sept. 23 requesting the annulment of a number of articles of government decrees on the suspension and dismissal of public officials in the ongoing state of emergency. The affected officials are accused of having links to the network of Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-resident Islamist preacher accused of orchestrating the bloody failed coup attempt of July 15.

CHP spokesman Levent Gök said his party had stood against the coup attempt and has been giving all kinds of support to fighting against the secretive Gülenist organization within the state apparatus. But he stressed that this fight should be carried out within the constitutional boundaries of a state of law. Gök also said the government was trying to carry out permanent amendments to legislation, despite the fact that any changes from decree laws should only be valid during the state of emergency period, according to the constitution.
Ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) spokesman Bülent Turan reacted to the CHP’s move with a strongly worded statement. Turan accused the CHP of acting in parallel with the “Fethullahist Terror Organization” (FETÖ), the name used by the government for the Gülenist organization, “after being in line” with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

This tension between the two parties was not there one day before, when Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu met on Sept. 22. The CHP said it wanted (as Gök repeated on Sept. 23) the AK Parti government to avoid taking the solidarity between them that emerged after the July 15 coup attempt for granted, while also avoiding using the state of emergency as an opportunity to make permanent changes to the system. 

That tension was also not in line with a joint statement by the AK Parti, the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on the afternoon of Sept. 23, when three deputy chairmen of the parties announced that they had agreed on a small-scale constitutional amendment package, as discussed between Yıldırım and Kılıçdaroğlu face-to-face and afterwards between Yıldırım and MHP head Devlet Bahçeli over the phone.

The current outlook of the Turkish government on international political and financial grounds is far from what is desired by President Tayyip Erdoğan. Even the strong stance of the Turkish people and parliament in defying a bloody coup attempt was not enough to win the sympathy of Western democracies, causing deep disappointment in Turkey. This is partly due to the method and style of Erdoğan and the AK Parti of doing politics.

The coup attempt had created an unprecedented political atmosphere in Turkey, which represents a chance for the AK Parti. Erdoğan and Yıldırım may of course try to do whatever they want by relying on the state of emergency measures and the AK Parti’s parliamentary majority. But it would be much better and wiser to act in compromise with the opposition parties, especially with the CHP, to gain a better reputation in the eyes of political and economic decision-makers both inside and outside Turkey. Not only would that benefit the country, it would also benefit themselves.