The End of Delusions
The Republican secularists who have long deluded themselves that the secular Westernized Republic will live on forever have finally realized that now is the end to their story given that the ex-Islamist conservatives have managed to win three successive elections and transfer the state power solely to themselves. Shortly after they attempted to ban the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2008 and there came the total loss of power with the constitutional amendments in 2010, which ensured executive hegemony over judiciary; the last bastion of the secularists’ power.
The liberal democrats who deluded themselves that conservative democrats could lead a full-fledged process of democratization are currently shocked by the rise of the nationalist and intolerant politics of the AKP. They did everything to keep their faith firm even after Hrant Dink trial ended with a big disappointment for those who had expected the government to disclose deep state links to the murder. Then came the Sivas massacre trial with similar result. Besides, the government’s conduct of solving the Kurdish issue has deteriorated into total militaristic policies and the suppression of free speech has become almost a norm of the new Turkey. As a result many of the government’s liberal supporters have started to express their disappointment.
Finally, the so-called ‘conservative democratic’ government who deluded itself as being all powerful, successful domestically and a global actor now finds themselves facing big problems at home and abroad. First of all, Turkey has ended up being a highly tense and polarized society in terms of tension between secularists and Alevis on one side and the conservatives on the other. The Kurdish issue has become more and more problematic as clashes with the PKK escalate and the success of governmental policies comes into question, not only in terms of democratic principles but also in terms of security. Despite the fact that governmental circles have avoided recognizing their failures, they have begun to express anxiety that leads them to regress even more from democratic politics.
Being a ultra realistic observer of Turkish politics who has long been labeled as ‘pessimistic,’ I suggested as early as 2007, that AKP rule will end up with a ‘governability crises’ if it insists in its obsession with power. I suggested that the ever increasing vote of the AKP would not ensure political stability since Turkey is a vast country where people with very different convictions and lifestyles find a way to live side by side. The most important aspect of good governance should have been thought of as ensuring pluralism and social peace through democratic conventions. I thought that the AKP’s understanding of ‘democracy as a majority rule’ was very risky for a country such as ours. Nevertheless, I could not foresee things would become so disastrous until very recently.
Last but not the least, the government’s delusion that it is a global actor and major regional player came to an end with its handling of the Syrian affair. Even before the Arab Spring diminished Turkey’s regional role, but it was easier to dismiss. Yet, Turkey’s direct meddling in the Syrian uprising finally reduced its role to that of Qatar and Saudi Arabia on one hand and created clear and potential domestic problems on the other. Despite efforts by the government to cover its failures on two fronts by linking the Syrian crises and the escalation of clashes with the PKK, it has not helped the government overcome its difficulties on both fronts.
People are bound to pay high prices for their delusions and the delusions of others and I am afraid this is the case in Turkey now.