“Let it be late rather than difficult,” a Turkish saying goes. I always thought that the opposite was more helpful in solving problems, that we should let it be difficult rather than late. Otherwise, after all, it may be too late! Besides, avoiding difficulties often means seeking refuge in delusions, and delusions are often dangerous.
I think the most compelling problem concerning the recent political crisis in Turkey is a matter of acknowledgement. It took really a very long time to acknowledge the fact that Turkey is sliding dangerously toward authoritarian rule under Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments. Now, it seems that it will take a long time to acknowledge the extent and importance of the crisis.
After all, it turned out to be clear that there is no transparency and accountability of the ruling party, no mechanism of checks and balances, no judicial freedom, and the situation gets worse every day.
However, most of us are keen to delude ourselves that it is just almost an ordinary pace of political tensions. Some waste time by focusing on discussing whether it was the Gülen Movement that triggered the crisis, and whether it is any better than the AKP. If they are no better, there will be enough reasons to excuse the non-democratic ways of the government, which takes all measures to block judges and obscure the judicial process in order to avoid charges of corruption.
Under the circumstances, another delusion is making calls to President Abdullah Gül to find a solution and to take action against the growing rift between the judiciary and the government, as if it is in his power to interfere and as if he has more democratic credentials. I think the fact that the president is a milder and more gentlemanly politician in comparison to the PM does not mean that he has more democratic credentials, considering his presidential past. From the beginning, Gül acted as the rubber stamp of AKP governments, and choose to give an image of an alternative political leader by hinting and smiling rather than speaking out and acting in his capacity. From the beginning of the recent crisis, his style remained the same, as if the country was not in turmoil. In his recent interview on a TV station, he kept smiling and finally summarized the whole affair as follows, “the most important aspect of the crisis is the economic crisis and everybody should be concerned.” A “very wise” comment coming from a mature and democratic politician, is not it?
By the way, we should not forget that it was economic determinism that failed to comprehend the complexity of politics in many countries such as ours. The liberal orthodoxy that promised a simple recipe of democracy by all kinds of supporters of liberal markets in non-Western countries ended up fostering various kinds of neo-authoritarianisms. The “pragmatic Muslims” vogue that preached that market-oriented, pragmatic Islamists would be the new democratic force in Muslim countries ended up in a fiasco, see the Arab Spring! Even the most cherished economic success of Turkey led to political disaster, as we can see better nowadays. After all, it is time to acknowledge the bitter truths about Turkey’s deep political crisis, as well as the crisis of majoritarian democracy in general, is not it?
Finally, the Kurdish problem and the so-called “peace process” deserves to be considered, not to be endangered, since it is the most fragile issue in the time of turmoil. Yet, Kurds (and all of us who support Kurdish rights and peaceful solution) also should acknowledge that there is no easy way out.
Kurds may tend to think that the governing party still is a better partner to engage with, considering the nationalist common denominator of anti-government parties and circles. Indeed this is true, but the governing party does not seem to have recovered from its domestic and international legitimacy crisis, and has ceased to be the “political actor” that can solve the Kurdish problem.