Who I will vote for this Sunday

Who I will vote for this Sunday

In just four days, we Turks will go to the ballots again. There will be more than a dozen parties on the list, but the race will mainly be between the major four: The Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

I would have told you more about to whom my vote will go. But we are now in a period of “election bans,” due to a law which decrees that “election propaganda” is banned in the final days before the elections. So let me behave and be a law-abiding citizen, and save my editor from trouble. But please feel free to read my lips.

Among these major four, the greatest one is, of course, the AKP, for which I have mixed feelings. It is a party I really believed in and supported enthusiastically for almost about a decade. For it really did great things for Turkey. Then I painfully watched its devolution to a growingly corrupt, nepotistic, arrogant and finally aggressive political machine. If it were still led by the vision and values of people like Abdullah Gül and Bülent Arınç, I would probably still be supporting it. But as Arınç said himself on a much-discussed TV interview last weekend, “I lost my love” for it. 

Moreover, I believe that Turkey can find some peace of mind in the near future only if the latter-day authoritarianism of the AKP (more precisely, of its Supreme Leader) can be curbed by some balancing factors. Therefore, it is really imperative that the AKP fails to win parliament majority in these snap elections, as was the case in the previous June 7 elections. 

Many people who would agree with the last sentence above have a ready-to-go address: the HDP, whose surprising victory in June was the very factor that disallowed an AKP-dominated parliament. I agree with them that the HDP should again pass the (shameful) ten percent national threshold. But there are reasons to have second thoughts about the HDP. At the end of the day, it is still somehow connected to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a violent group. Whether another HDP victory will make the PKK more or less belligerent is anybody’s guess. And because of this “terrorism connection,” real or perceived, there is no way the HDP can be a mainstream party in Turkey that is able to tip the political balance. 

On the very other end of the spectrum, there is the MHP. Had the party had a more flexible leader and a bit more creative cadre, it could have helped all of us by moving from its far-right position to some place that resembles the old center-right. But that is not happening and is not going to happen anytime soon. The MHP only promises us more hawkishness on the Kurdish front, which is the last thing we need. 

Which brings me to the fourth option, the main opposition CHP. Let me mince no words: I like the change I see in the CHP in the past few years under Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and see a light in it. This is perhaps a bit of a strange thing to say for a person like me, who spent years criticizing the founding ideology of the CHP, which is Kemalism. But I see a post-Kemalist CHP emerging, moving away from its hardcore secularist and nationalist roots, and trying to become something like a real social democratic party. And I believe it should be supported. 

For what Turkish politics desperately needs right now is a balance of power. And despite all its shortcomings, the main opposition is still the best bet to offer a balance. 

Before closing, thanks to all those who will vote on Sunday, no matter who they choose. And good luck to all of us.