The leader and the party

The leader and the party

The U.K. is not the only example, but one of the features of advanced democracies is that there is a functioning in-party democracy and there is no domination by the leader. As a result of the Brexit referendum, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron resigned, saying the Conservative Party should have fresh leadership and the country a new prime minister in the forthcoming period. 

In the U.K., candidates running for parliamentary membership are not determined by party headquarters and leaders but by the grassroots of the party. In that regard, the deputies are loyal to their parties but because they have been selected by the grassroots they are not at the leader’s disposal. 

The leader of the Conservative Party is elected accordingly by party deputies who have “independent wills of their own.” After Cameron, there were two candidates: Ms. Andrea Leadsom and Ms. Theresa May... The election was won by Ms. May, nicknamed the “new Iron Lady.” Ms. Leadsom apologized for an offensive word she used during the race; Ms. May accepted the apology and the matter was closed. 

After the Queen’s approval, Ms. May will be the U.K.’s new and second female prime minister. 

In advanced democracies, the party leader does not regard their party as their property, their child, or their army; when necessary the leader withdraws. They do not lose their reputation because of that; this is considered normal.   

A more important example was the resignation and withdrawal of the first “Iron Lady,” Ms. Margaret Thatcher. 

Naturally, differences of opinion emerged in the 12th year of the prime ministry of Ms. Thatcher, who had won three elections in a row and who had influenced even the opposition Labor Party with her ideas and practices. Geoffrey Howe, who strongly supported Thatcher at the beginning and who was the architect of the market economy reforms, resigned from his deputy prime minister position citing that he thought differently from Ms. Thatcher. 

How important are principles compared to positions? Do you see it? 

Ms. Thatcher did not accuse him of “betraying the cause,” or anything else. She did not attempt to expel or exclude him from the party. On the contrary, she opted for a vote of confidence from her party. Even though she gained the vote of confidence of the majority, because she had to make a second round, Ms. Thatcher resigned on Nov. 22, 1990. 

There are so many lessons to draw from this… The most important one is that nobody in the atmosphere of an advanced political culture regards themselves before the leader as the “child of the father,” “subject of the ruler” or “soldier of the chief.” Those times were before World War II and in the long centuries of history. 

Let us not forget that the U.K. is a kingdom but it has a rich history of individual freedoms. 

This is what we need to advance in Turkey. Instead of the community and hierarchy culture, we should bring in a culture of individuals with independent will, legal rules and debate… In developing countries, on the other hand, politics want people to behave as a part of the collective as a “tightened fist.” The issue is not about blood and religion, but about the society’s development level. 

When viewed in terms of the nature of political culture, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is a totalitarian party. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) is more of a clique party than one made up of independent individuals; it is difficult for the CHP to reach decisions with participatory debates. In the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) the culture of obedience is strong.

The advancement of political parties, governments ruling a country tension-free, the development of creativity in the economy and the development of technology are all associated with free will and the strengthening of the debate culture.