Turkey has already adopted a de facto “leadership” or “supreme guidance” system. The parliamentary elections has already turned into a referendum, as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan campaigns not only openly to support the governing party but also for a new political system. The current leader of the governing party, the prime minister has no option other than to campaign for the so-called “Turkish presidential system” which will end his premiership and the political role for him and his party. As for the so-called “Turkish presidential system,” it is defined as the absolute rule under President Erdoğan, who is assumed by his supporters to be “the national leader.”
First of all, this election campaign has already redefined the terms of politics as “national struggle.” The president and his supporters define the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) as “the party of the nation” and the opposition as the enemies of the nation and national interests. Since it is has been claimed that the future of the nation is at stake, the terms of democratic politics turn out to be irrelevant.
Moreover, according to the new revolutionary talk of the president and his party, it is not only the current parliamentary system and the constitution, but also the current definition of the nation and its interests that are irrelevant.
It is so because the republican regime defines the nation along secular lines which ignores the historical and religious past and culture. In this view, Turkey is the historical center of Sunni Islam and has responsibilities not only toward its citizens but to the whole Sunni world. That is why the role of the Religious Affairs Directorate is being elevated not only to a sort of political guidance but is also targeting global influence for Sunni Muslims – making the comparison with the status of the pope no coincidence. So therefore, the national interest is no longer limited to the interests of Turkey’s citizens but defined in terms of Turkey’s global historico-religious mission. Finally, the definition of the nation-state is being questioned as the imposition of imperialist powers at the end of World War I.
If the governing party manages to get a comfortable majority in the election, not only the new definition of the political regime, but also the redefinition of national citizenship and national interests will be institutionalized along with new jurisdictions and the new Turkey project will be enacted by all means. The iron hand of the prospective system has already started to be felt by all sorts of authoritarian measures against all sorts of opposition, especially after the Gezi event; the New Turkey project promises more. The pro-government media has already started to create an “ancien regime” to lead a witch hunt. We already have special courts and draconian laws of terror and national security. If the project finds the chance to be completed after the elections, I am sure some sort of revolutionary courts or court cases will follow.
As I wrote before, this is no ordinary election but is set to be an elective revolution in the negative sense of the term. If the Kurdish party manages to overcome the 10 percent threshold and the governing party loses some power, we will have hope for the restoration of democracy. In this case, the opposition within the governing party will also have an opportunity to assert its discontent about the recent extremism of their party. Nevertheless, even then, things will not go easy, since neither Erdoğan nor his recent cronies will feel obliged by democratic procedures. If this is no ordinary election but a matter of national struggle as they claim, the national leader will feel free to act in the name of the nation and its so-called interests rather than obey the whims of what is called a Western democracy. I am afraid Turkey is heading toward more political crises after the election, even if the AKP loses some support. If not, we will face not only political but existential crises.
In short, a “fatal election” is coming soon to a Turkish theatre near you, with its star actor reprising the role of an “homme fatale.”