Is the political climate changing?
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has elevated himself to the presidency, but is trying to remain the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) with domestic and foreign visits, statements targeting political opponents, as well as controversial statements going to the extent of Muslims discovering the Americas and the “Cuban mosque.”
Once upon a time, a very opinionated woman was not letting her son have a happy married life, intervening in everything. She was such a shrewd woman that the boy had to get a divorce from his three marriages. The fourth wife was a cunning lady. Whatever the mother-in-law said, she cared less, but pretended as if she was abiding with the “imperial commands.” The old lady was frustrated.
Whatever she did, the new daughter-in-law found a way out. One day, walking in the early afternoon hours for a family visit, the old woman exclaimed, “Look at the sky. The cloud is like a picture of a donkey galloping.” There was no such thing, but if she said anything against the old lady would burst with the charge that the daughter-in-law claimed she was a liar. “You are right mom, look next to it there is her foal dancing,” the bride said, sending the mother-in-law into shock.
When I heard science, industry and technology minister of the “New Turkey” talking about Muslim scientists were the first to determine that the Earth is a sphere some 1,200 years ago, I remembered that story. Was that enough? There were others allegiant enough to rush to please the absolute ruler.
The deputy chief of the Religious Affairs Directorate said the president must have heard about their study regarding the “mosque” Christopher Columbus had seen and the preparations to get a mosque built in that region. He said as the Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate they wanted the mosque to be built through the contributions of Muslim societies across the globe, but might undertake the sacred job alone as well.
Surrendering to the all-powerful, engaging in a relationship of absolute allegiance with a totally defeatist mentality are difficult to understand. Worse, if – unlike the young bride who pretended to have seen the dancing foal to fool her mother-in-law – these people are “sincere” in their toad-eating, perhaps there is no need of waiting to see a rift between the master and the most worshipful master, the decay has started.
Even though it is sad to see the prime minister of the land engaging in a contest of “you cannot go to that corner … If you go there you cannot go to the other corner” contest with an opposition leader, as if it is not his responsibility to make all corners of the country accessible, the transition of Prime Ministry from Erdoğan to Ahmet Davutoğlu appears to have worked well with Erdoğan remaining the string puller. Yet, at the party level, discontent is apparently increasing, angering hopes of the AKP’s comeback with a stronger electoral support sufficient enough to make the constitutional amendment to make Erdoğan the elected sultan.
An individual appeal to the Constitutional Court for the annulment of the 10 percent electoral threshold on grounds the application violated “equality in representation” is expected to be finalized by the high court within the next few weeks. According to what my distinguished colleague Muharrem Sarıkaya reported from Chief Judge Haşim Kılıç, if the threshold was annulled such a verdict would immediately go into force without waiting one year, unlike other electoral law changes and thus will have an impact on the result of the upcoming parliamentary elections. Such a situation will be detrimental to Erdoğan’s aspirations.
Of course Erdoğan and his political clan will condemn such a development as a “constitutional coup” or “work of the parallel state” but Erdoğan and his party are on the record as well that they knew the 10 percent threshold was incompatible with the “justice in representation” principle. Well, they should have acted on it before and at least must have reduced the threshold to a reasonable 3-5 percent level if they were bothered with the “stability in governance” principle.
Even though having difficulty in believing its accuracy because of the 7.5 percentage points, it said Emine Ülker Tarhan’s new Anatolia Party would get, the latest poll by the prestigious Sonar polling company showed a marked decrease in AKP votes and almost no change in the standing of the opposition parties. According to Sonar, the AKP’s support dipped to 34.7 percent while main opposition Republican People’s Party was at 25.2 percent and the Nationalist Movement Party was trailing behind with 16 percent. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was around 6.5 percent and the Labor Party was at 2.1 percent.
Do these figures represent a change in the political climate? It is obvious that at least the AKP’s spring might be over.