‘Turkish peace process’ needed

‘Turkish peace process’ needed

The joy of the general election is over. It was democracy which won the elections, not the governing party or the opposition, and now a “peace process” is needed. This is because it was not an ordinary election, as the president and the governing party turned the election campaign into a referendum about the future of Turkey and a battle between “the nation and its enemies.” The president publicly declared that “to side with the governing party is to side with the nation, since all parties and segments of the opposition were working against national interests.” That is why the issue currently is not only to form a coalition government after the governing party lost its majority, but also to start a “peace process.”

So far, Turkey has overcome the authoritarian sway, but we still need political restoration to overcome the danger of a backlash. We need to restore parliamentarianism, judicial independence, democratic checks and balances and media freedom. Besides, we also need to return to the stalled Kurdish peace process. The best option to achieve such a restoration is a grand coalition of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP), since a coalition of the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is bound to be at the expense of the Kurdish peace process, which the MHP has categorically declared illegal and illegitimate. Besides, the basic problem of the last AKP government was its slide away from centrist politics, and an AKP-MHP coalition would be a shift from the center-right to conservative nationalism.

Moreover, such a coalition would further divide Turkey, not only along Turkish-Kurdish lines, as it would also expand the conservative-secular divide.

The grand consensus coalition of the AKP and the CHP is very difficult to form for various reasons, and especially because the AKP has demonized the CHP all along and portrayed it as almost the party of infidels. That is why I need to name it the “Turkish peace process,” rather than an ordinary coalition. It is true that the AKP not only demonized but also criminalized the Kurdish-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Nevertheless, in order to restart the “Kurdish peace process,” a “Turkish peace process” is needed beforehand. That is why the HDP did the right thing by declaring they would support an AKP-CHP coalition.

All we know, or should know, is that Turkey needs a consensus for a new democratic constitution to avoid the ghosts of authoritarianism. It is a big deal and for that reason the terms of compromise should be well and realistically calculated. I think the first condition of a realistic deal should be to reconsider priorities. If the long-term democratic restoration is the priority, both parties should avoid matters which ultimately lead to confrontation. For the opposition, it is genuine power sharing and no presidential system; in the case of AKP, it is to avoid the sacrifice of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The opposition should acknowledge the fact that there is no party but Erdoğan and any deal against him is bound to fail. It may sound as an unprincipled argument, but Erdoğan should be excluded from judicial threats of corruption, to tell the truth. We should not forget that weakened autocrats may still be dangerous, or sometimes even more dangerous if all the exits are closed.

Unfortunately, peace processes in the real world can only be achieved by turning a blind eye to some truths and principles of justice. That is why the British have still not been able to conclude the “peace or justice” discussion, after so many years of a political agreement with the Irish Republican Army (IRA). It may sound like an exaggeration to make parallels between the “Turkish peace process” (as I call it) and those major armed confrontations like the battle with the IRA, but what we experienced in Turkey recently was a kind of “civil war” without weapons. After all, the election was called by AKP politicians and supporters the “New War of Independence” and “the culmination of the 2002 revolution.” If the AKP had won, we would have ended up with a one-party state.

This is why we should not fail to take the opportunity the election gave us seriously and put a halt to a terrible end, because unless we can cope with the complexity of the political situation, we may end up with more social and political crises.