June 8: Waking up to chaos

Turkey is focused on the June 7 elections and every citizen expects to wake up to a new and better Turkey on the morning of June 8. Of course, peopleandrsquos expectations vary. While there are supporters of the ruling party whose burning desire is simply to see the de facto executive president Tayyip Erdogan becoming officially and”executiveand” there are also those anxious to see a sea change in Turkish politics with a plummeting Justice and Development Party (AKP). Nevertheless Turkey is just not an easy country to change, so beware of overconfidence.
There is as much pessimism in the air as hope though these days. I think weandrsquore destined to find ourselves facing a certain period of chaos, no matter what the results are. If the Peoplesandrsquo Democracy Party (HDP) passes the electoral threshold, we will find ourselves living in a Turkey where the HDP and the Kurdish political movement compose the main opposition flank. As an asidin, I did write back on June 17, 2011 following the last general elections that the HDPandmdashor rather, the BDP as it was known thenandmdash was destined to be the countryandrsquos main opposition from there onwards. The proposals we are hearing from the HDP during this election campaigning are these of a main opposition party.
Itandrsquos not difficult to guess that an HDP that passes the electoral threshold will in fact bring a breath of fresh air to the countryandrsquos poisoned political atmosphere. It will infuse fresh air into stale political habits, into the patriarchal politics that reigns everywhere, and into morality-based right wing politics. Also, if the HDP makes it over the threshold, it will be the first time that a political party would go through thus gaining a golden legitimacy. But of course, these are bold issues for the future, not necessarily functional for the morning of June 8.
Most people are designing scenarios based on two basic assumptions, one being that Mr Erdogan gets his executive presidential regime, and the other being that he does not. I expect chaos in both situations.
For Mr Erdogan to get what he really wants means for the HDP to remain under the threshold. If the HDP doesnandrsquot make it over the threshold, there are a number of alternatives as to what might happen. Party co-chair Demirtaiandrsquo commitment to peace process and Turkishness of his party embracing the whole nation may not be easy with centrifugal forces weighing heavy. As a result the Kurdish political movement might find itself withdrawing into Kurdistan. But this might not necessarily be a peaceful withdrawal neither in Kurdistan with potential clashes with the army.
Achieving a constitutional majority of 367 seats, even if the HDP remains under the threshold, looks difficult. It is more likely that the AKP will get around 330 seats that are necessary to bring the presidential system to referendum. But of course, the referendumandrsquos result is not a guaranteed, and it means more political tension. It also means an atmosphere in which the Kurds have been marginalized by the threshold, ignored and discounted politically, and in which they would retreat to their region. It also means an atmosphere where the majority of the population is opposed to the AKP, but in which the AKP once again come to single handed power. All this while the economy is ailing by the day. And when there are no policies be it domestic or international, which have not been failed.

If the HDP does go beyond the threshold, it would mean, according to some researchers, that the ruling AKP would not only be able to find 330 seats. Some say even the 276 that they would need to form a single party government. This set up means searching for new formulas that would allow gaining the 276 andor 330 seats so as to maximally protect Mr Erdogan. These formulas may come true, but on one condition: By duly calculating how any collaboration andor coalition with AKP will leave the other party before its voters and the general public opinion.

Because today in Turkish politics it looks growingly intricate to admit an equation in which Erdogan is directly or indirectly involved. And weandrsquore not talking about only politics. From soccer to foreign relations, from religious beliefs to construction frenzy, from natalist policies to the respect of the Constitution, from non-Muslim policy to interest rate policy, is not every matter that he intervenes in a real or potential fiasco?
Even though Turkey appears to be going into an election, there is importance to anything except the future of Erdogan. The setting in which every word and deed is determined by the future of Erdogan, is the vanishing point of politics.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman