Turkey’s acute opposition problem

Turkey’s acute opposition problem

Diplomats accredited to Ankara are abnormally busy these days, not only because of the accelerated pre-Ramadan receptions and dinner invitations but also because of the hectic political agenda of the Turkish capital. In how many countries might a prime minister, six months after a smart and overwhelming electoral victory, meet with the president, step down complaining it was “not within my disposition” and hand over party leadership and the Prime Ministry to yet another politician who, like the outgoing one, was also handpicked by the same absolute ruler? Was it understandable if in a country there was a security problem with serious political dimensions but already limited channels of political resolution were brutally demolished for some other political fortune designs? Was it indeed sane to lift the judicial immunity of some deputies with a provisional article added to the constitution – a development which apart other constitutional incompatibilities must be a clear violation of the sacrosanct principle of equality – and kill Kurdish representation in parliament? Why did the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) act so shallow and align with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to empower the government and its judiciary to walk over the Kurdish representation?

This week some segments of Turkish society have been marking the third anniversary of the Gezi events while police, intelligence and the government have been in pains to take whatever measures possible to block access to city squares. Was it to overshadow the Gezi anniversary celebration of the still non-obedient segments of the society, that an extravagant celebration was organized by the “official Turkey” of the absolute power holder to mark the anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul? Recently I read somewhere that a Portuguese tourist, perplexed with the massive construction spree in Istanbul, was commenting, “Turks conquered Istanbul centuries ago, but still could not settle in [it].” Why does a country celebrate the 563rd anniversary of the conquest of a city? What was a 563rd anniversary notable? Probably Turkey has an abundance of funds and loves to spend lavishly like a juvenile playboy. 

A very heavy agenda, was it not? Deciphering what indeed happened and how things evolved is often a very difficult task in this country, which should rightly boast of inheriting the Byzantine political intrigues heritage with its 563-year-old victory.

The inability of the opposition parties to come up with strategies, policy papers, ideas, suggestions and proposals but instead insist on acting as an uncomfortable car attached to the train of the AKP can never ever bring about success in any form. One, the MHP, has been the crunch of the AKP all along anyway. Some naïve people, including this writer, still hope that a leadership change might produce a credible second address to large segments of conservative voters and thus help bring about a change to the current majoritarian political understanding. Such a development might help to bring about change in Turkish politics.

Yet, the real change should come in the left, where unfortunately there is one party which claims to be leftist but indeed is often far more nationalist than the nationalist party, while the other one has been the prey of separatist terrorism, instead of trying to become a party of the entire Turkey bogged down in not only micro-nationalism but also unable to even make a statement critical of terrorist violence.

The CHP tried to explain to visiting dignitaries this week why it voted to lift the immunity of deputies. It was scared that the tall, bald, bold, ever angry man yelling at everyone would take it to a referendum, exploit it grossly and attack the CHP as a collaborator of the terrorists should it not support the constitutional amendment. Why would the CHP not come up with a convincing counter proposal and offer, for example, the lifting of political immunity all together, except of course the rostrum of parliament? As a party that wrote two and very important Kurdish reports, why did the CHP never ever take the initiative and offer the Turkish public its ideas for a comprehensive resolution of the Kurdish issue, as well as eradication of the hunches on Turkey’s democracy, like the anti-terrorism law obstructing the visa deal with Europe nowadays? The leaders with personal charisma age was over, it is often said. Well, in the absence of charisma, there must be something else? Ideas, concrete proposals or such…

Many people might be thinking the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is approaching its demise. Probably. But if HDP deputies are hunted and the party is forced to close its doors or go underground, the loser will be Turkey. In the absence of the HDP Turkey should have created a HDP to discuss a way out to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) menace politically. The HDP could not become a political party. The PKK did not allow it.

The Turkish state did not allow it. The HDP had a serious leadership deficiency. The HDP could never ever come up with a proposal of what it indeed demanded. Allowing the PKK to bury the party in the ditches dug in southeastern cities was the worst undertaking of HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş and his friends. Probably the HDP is now paying back for betraying the voters who supported the HDP’s “Shall become a Turkey party” claim in the June election. Could he answer to the “What do you want?” question of ambassadors? No…
Still, the country has no credible opposition and Turks continue hoping the AKP might give birth to its own opposition… So sad, is it not?