Erdoğan, AKP want ‘fake opposition’ in Turkey

Erdoğan, AKP want ‘fake opposition’ in Turkey

Repeating the fact that Turkey is going through the most difficult times in its history in every news piece or column is not a very pleasant thing to do. It could even be considered boring, but it has to be done to better demonstrate and explain what this country is being exposed to.

It’s the duty of politicians, journalists and opinion-makers – as well as every reasonable person - to highlight the recent far from promising developments in Turkey, and to issue proportionate criticisms using proper language.

An approach of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” would do real harm to Turkey and to the Turkish people, particularly at this very important milestone for Turkish democracy.

Over the past two weeks, two major developments have dealt fresh blows to Turkish democracy: The first was the arrest of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-leaders Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, as well as 10 other HDP lawmakers. The second was the arrest of daily Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu and a number of its prominent writers.

These moves were just part of the chain of continued undemocratic measures taken by the government following the July 15 coup attempt. While the Turkish public have been eagerly awaiting the prosecution of figures who physically participated in the putsch, bombing parliament and killing around 250 people, they have been shocked by the massive purges of thousands of teachers, civil servants, and academics due to their links to Gülen-affiliated schools or banks.

The government continues to issue decree laws - even on issues not necessarily related to the coup attempt - under the state of emergency, which will likely continue for longer than previously assumed.

Under these circumstances, Turkish politics have taken a very new shape. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are enjoying a very solid alliance on the basis of a backward nationalist-conservative agenda, constantly attacking the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and other dissident groups, as well as the media.

The AKP, the MHP, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have tangibly hardened their language against the CHP, accusing it of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) because of its criticisms of the arrest of HDP lawmakers. In separate speeches on Nov. 8, President Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and MHP head Devlet Bahçeli harshly attacked the CHP over its recent declaration that underscored deteriorations in democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The reason for this pressure is clear. They are trying to create cracks within the CHP’s electorate through these harsh terror accusations. Ultimately they want the CHP to become an essentially fake opposition party, just as in other countries under one-strongman rule.

At a moment when the HDP has been put under heavy pressure, with its co-leaders imprisoned and its voice no longer heard in public debates, the CHP’s place as the sole active opposition party remains the most significant asset of what remains of Turkey’s democracy.

AKP circles should well remember that democracy is the name of regimes that allow co-existence between the government and opposition parties. In the absence of genuine opposition a regime can no longer be called democratic; rather it is just authoritarian.