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The failure of Turkeyand’s persistently weak opposition parties to pose any sort of real challenge to the ruling party and represent the level of opposition within the wider public is a problem that has only increased since the unexpected outcome of the Nov. 1 snap election, according to political analysts.
The results of the Nov. 1 snap vote was a big disappointment for the three opposition parties — the Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP) — that managed to enter Parliament.
Although these three parties received around 60 percent of the vote in the June 7 general election, their combined total vote receded in the November vote to around 50 percent as the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) saw its share of the vote increase by 10 points, winning 49.5 percent of the nationwide poll. The opposition parties have begun a period of soul searching since the elections in a bid to discover how they can regain the trust of the voters. According to andcanakkale 18 Mart University professor Sedat Laandciner, one of the problems with the opposition parties is that they lag behind the opposition within Turkish society. andquotThe opposition in the street is stronger than the opposition in the political arena. The most fundamental reason for this is that the three opposition parties show a weak reaction to the violations of law. The most concrete example of this has been seen in the appointment of trustees to Koza ipek Holding,andquot said Laandciner. Just several days before the November election, Turkey saw the takeover of the management of Koza ipek Holding by a group of trustees appointed by the government in an apparently politically motivated move. Koza ipek Holding comprises 22 companies, including two TV channels, Kanaltandurk and Bugandun TV, two dailies, the Millet and Bugandun, and a number of other subsidiaries including ipek University. Police officers forcibly entered the building housing Bugandun TV and Kanaltandurk, the media groupand’s two flagship stations that have long been a powerful platform for opposition politicians, and took them off the air.
The trustees have not only fired dozens of journalists from the news outlets of the ipek Media Group, but they have also turned the groupand’s TV stations and newspapers, which used to have a critical stance, into government mouthpieces. andquotThe halting of broadcasts and seizure of newspapers there was actually a silencing of the opposition. Although they have lost a platform where they were able to voice their views, opposition parties remained onlookers to this obvious violation of law. The CHPand’s resistance, with three of its deputies, was the most noteworthy. The HDP simply paid a visit to show support while the MHP was not even seen there as if it was saying, and’This is not my fight,and’andquot said Laandciner, adding that the parties should have taken a much stronger stance against the unlawful takeover no matter the identity of the victim. According to the professor, the public punished the opposition on Nov. 1 due to its ineffectual response to the unlawful developments in the country and an additional half million votes received by the CHP was the likely result of the partyand’s support for Koza ipek Holding, with three of its deputies visiting the organization during the takeover. Laandciner also warned that having a stronger opposition in the street than in the political arena is dangerous and if opposition parties cannot carry the energy in the street to legitimate platforms, society could deteriorate and suffer from increased polarization.
h2 Opposition needs to address structural problemsh2 Professor andOzer Sencar, who heads the Metropoll research company, told Todayand’s Zaman that opposition parties first need to address their structural problems. andquotUnless opposition parties do not solve their structural problems, Turkeyand’s problem of a lack of strong opposition cannot be resolved because the opposition parties cannot even develop a discourse to be a rival to the AK Party,andquot Sencar said. The results of the June 7 and Nov. 1 elections have shown the opposition parties what kind of an opposition they should be, according to the professor. andquotWith the contribution of political scientists, opposition parties need to discuss the election results extensively. Despite the exhaustion of the ruling party, the opposition gap is a significant problem. The opposition parties should first find an answer to the question of how to become real opposition parties,andquot said Sencar. Reports in the Turkish media underlined that the voters who urged opposition parties to establish a coalition government through conciliation talks in the wake of the June 7 election punished them for failing to do so.
Immediately after the result of the June 7 election was announced, MHP leader Devlet Bahandceli said the party wouldnand’t be a part of any government that included the HDP. Bahandceli also rejected the AK Partyand’s offer to form a coalition government. The CHP emerged as the only party that was eager to discuss different alternatives to form a coalition government after June 7, including with the AK Party. However, the CHPand’s efforts were in vain because President Recep Tayyip Erdogan didnand’t give a mandate to CHP Chairman Kemal Kiliandcdaroilu after he had refused to visit him at the newly built presidential palace in the Beitepe neighborhood of Ankara, claiming that the building had been illegally constructed on Atatandurk Forest Farm (AOandc) land.
Professor Mehmet Altan said the most important problem of the opposition parties in Turkey is the fact that they cannot go beyond the limits drawn for them. Altan said the AK Party ruined the legitimacy of the election process by using oppression and excessive use of state means and the opposition parties demonstrated a level of opposition that suggested it was and”playing houseandquot in return. andquotCivilian politics is like playing house in Turkey. The public authorized the opposition parties to change the Sept. 12 coup regime laws but the opposition parties could not make use of this opportunity. The opposition parties, which obtained the majority of the seats in Parliament [following the June 7 election], could not make Parliament work,andquot said Altan, adding that they should have enabled a functioning Parliament at all costs despite obstructions from the AK Party and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
According to Altan, opposition parties missed an opportunity to show real opposition during the takeover of the management of the Koza ipek Holding by a group of trustees by failing to raise their voices strongly enough against the unlawful action. andquotIt was not a matter of appointment of trustees. It was usurpation. Is it sufficient to oppose such an usurpation with several deputies? If all the opposition parties had gone with their leaders and deputies the result would be different. The government and the illegal palace [a reference to Erdogan] want to silence the opposition with oppression. And the opposition is just watching this,andquot he said. In the meantime, former minister Gandurcan Daidai told Todayand’s Zaman that the MHP, which lost two million votes on Nov. 1, needs to restructure and make an extensive examination of its loss of votes. Daidai said the party will even fail to pass the 10 percent election threshold in future if it ignores its loss of support.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN

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