“New Turkey” and the Gül factor

“New Turkey” and the Gül factor

In the allegiant media, for some time, there has been a new rhetoric: “New Turkey, new leader…” What is wanted to be conveyed is clear, anyhow, in all of those articles splashed all through the newspapers and on the TV screens, there is no effort to conceal the intended massive propaganda: Vote for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, help to  move on to a new Turkey!

Worshipping leaders is a culture in this land, though it is a sin, a taboo under Islamic teaching. A young man appointed deputy education director of a province the other day proudly placed the campaign logo of Erdoğan on his Twitter account’s photo place. Can anyone say “It is a personal choice?” The man is deputy director of education, worshipping a mortal, claiming to be a pious Muslim! Up until recent times, young primary school students were bussed from remote Anatolian cities to Ankara for a visit to the mausoleum of Atatürk, the founding father of the republic. Now, similar tours continue, but the addresses have changed; kids are now escorted to mosques. Is there anything wrong with it?
Definitely not, except the officious behavioral obsession.

Yesterday’s allegiance to Fethullah Gülen’s Islamist brotherhood was the fashion while the secularist state was trying to hunt the Gülenists. Then, the Gülenists came to power as part of an alliance with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and escaped from persecution for some time. But when the AKP and its sole boss Erdoğan developed the confidence they could carry on alone, Erdoğan’s men started to hunt the Gülenists. Or, was it the Gülenists who tried to hunt Erdoğan, but failed, and now facing the consequences through all sorts of purges?

But, where is the “new Turkey” in all this? The masters have changed. The sufferers have changed… But is it not still the same power-worshipping society? Will this country move on to a higher gear, should the man who has been in power for the past 12 years and demonstrated sufficiently how dictatorial he might be becomes the head of state, head of government, head of judiciary and head of everything? What was denied from Erdoğan as prime minister all throughout the past 12 years? Did, during the last seven years for example, President Abdullah Gül put aside his “notary of Çankaya” profile and reject one government decision? Did Gül ever say “No” to any of Erdoğan’s executive decisions? Unless he manages to revamp the Constitution and collect all executive powers in his hands, will Erdoğan as a president enjoy the similar authority he now enjoys as prime minister? Definitely not.

Even if he manages to get an imbecile from his own house elevated to the post of prime minister, a while later that imbecile will say “Hold on father, this is my work, my power.”

Now, there are abundant signs that Gül will not settle in Istanbul, abandon politics and allow Erdoğan cultivate his own rose garden the way he likes. Gül, though far more conservative than Erdoğan, has been a successful politician because of his tolerant attitude and respect to individuals. He definitely cannot be the Medvedev to a Putin-style Erdoğan. The incumbent premier may have designs to handpick his successor, design the AKP’s next election campaign, get the new Parliament to adopt the constitutional amendments, if not a new Constitution that would make him the sole executive of the “new Turkey.”

That “new Turkey,” however, will definitely have a “new president,” but most likely an old-style prime minister… Many handpicked premiers and presidents have been seen in this land; none remained loyal to the power that brought them in. Will it be different now? Definitely not, particularly if Gül demonstrates the slightest intention of returning to active politics as prime minister and AKP leader, Erdoğan’s presidency might turn into some sort of a five-star imprisonment in the presidential office.

Would that be the dawn of a “new Turkey?” It is a matter of interpretation, naturally.