Is there a crisis or not?
Are they playing the good cop / bad cop game? Is there a crisis between the president and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government over the Kurdish opening? Was it not the president who, as prime minister, launched this Kurdish opening? Has he now become more nationalist than the nationalists and criticized his government for making too many concessions? Why this dust storm?
According to many analysts, no one can say there is not a crisis between the government and the president. Indeed, even the staunchest supporters of the current allegiance culture in governance admitted in their columns Tuesday that the ruling AKP and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have ventured onto totally alien and dangerous new ground in their political lives. How they will come out of this in one piece and whether or not they even can is up for debate now, and the answer – which will have an effect on the entire country – appears to be a very difficult one to find.
Is the problem just the Kurdish opening and the apparently election-indexed, new-found nationalism of President Erdoğan as opposed to the concessionary, resolution-oriented and a little bit defeatist approach of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu? Or, do we have larger contrary positions on how the country ought to be ruled? Publicly, Erdoğan and Davutoğlu are talking almost with the same tongue, or at least whatever the president says the prime minister repeats. On the contrary positions on the Kurdish issue, for example, the fight is continuing between Erdoğan and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, while Davutoğlu listens from a distance with his mouth shut. Can a veteran politician like Deputy Prime Minister Arınç talk off the head? Sure he can, we saw many examples of that over the years. But, can he do it repeatedly and intentionally? No way. But, can the people buy an explanation that Erdoğan was cheated by the Kurds like he was cheated by the Fethullah Gülen group in the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer operations?
Arınç has completed his three terms and will not seek reelection. Will the problem be solved? Perhaps some headway towards a solution will be made by the end of the election but, for example, there will be an escalation in the first week of April when electoral candidate lists have to be finalized. Will the AKP enter elections with a list of candidates party chairman and prime minister-shaped, or will that list be designed by the AKP’s absolute master, Erdoğan? The fight the country witnessed in shock over the Kurdish opening might become trivial if Davutoğlu, waging an uphill battle for survival, attempts to make “his” list of candidates.
Aware that the Kurdish opening and latest disclosures, both at the Dolmabahçe Palace office of the prime minister and at the Diyarbakır Nevruz celebrations, hurt the nationalists and the resulting anger might cost the AKP severely in the June elections, Erdoğan has become very nationalist in order to woo them. This is not the first time there has been a pre-election shift in Erdoğan’s position. Will the Turks allow themselves to be fooled with such superficial nationalist shows? That will become clear when the boxes are counted, but it is no secret the AKP is no longer hovering at the 50 percent level, but rather is in the 40’s and going down.
The Kurdish opening, however, has become vital and existential for this country and probably irrespective of who is in governance, has become non-returnable. The problem, unfortunately, is how to proceed…
Before he was elected to the presidency, many people commented that “Çankaya Palace” might become a luxurious prison for Erdoğan should, like his predecessors, he and his former party part ways or his efforts to carry the country to a presidential system of governance fail. A new and extravagant palace was built for Erdoğan in the outskirts of Ankara and the country was de facto moved on to some sort of a “different” and “a la turca” presidential governance without constitutional background. Now, it is becoming clear that even his party will not accept this ostrich-like creature, neither a parliamentary democracy nor a presidential system.
The flip-flop policies, the presidency and the government waging an under-the-carpet war of domination, the dollar rate surging, the civil service in disarray, the Kurds demanding more and more and the president becoming more nationalist than the nationalists… Obviously Turkey has a crisis and this crisis carries the risk of being aggravated considerably as the country gears-up for parliamentary elections in June…