Reawakening of Turkish democracy

In the famous Disney film and”Sleeping Beauty,and” a wicked witch casts a spell on a princess, sending her into a deep sleep. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) thought they could do the same thing with Turkish democracy. Not only did they want to put it to sleep, they wanted to kill it off. On Sunday Turks pushed back, as they did at Gezi Park in 2013. The result demonstrated that Turkish society has chosen the path of democracy rather than the illusionary neo-Ottoman politics of the AKP and the authoritarian style of leadership of President Erdogan. While Erdogan supporters are, not surprisingly, trying to make a success story out of the results by arguing that the AKP came out on top again, the party clearly took a huge blow. Hopefully they will now understand that democracy is about much more than winning at the ballot box. This means nothing if you fail to have enough support to form a government. Turks voted for stability in democracy rather than stability in administration. Rather than changing the Constitution, the ruling AKP has found itself fighting to stay in government. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoiluand’s balcony speech on Sunday night was a very grim affair. While he tried to put on a brave face and talk up the AKP, the morose faces of those in the background showed the real picture. Turkey now has some difficult days ahead because it remains to be seen whether or not a coalition government can be formed or whether there will be an early election. We face a period of horse trading over possible alliances. Despite the fact that the leaders of all three opposition parties — the Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP) — all oppose the AKP for different reasons and have ruled out forming a coalition with it, never say never because given the right conditions and concessions everything is possible. Furthermore, a new period of uncertainty over economic policy has opened. Foreign investors would have preferred it if the AKP had failed to get enough seats for Erdogan to create his executive presidency, but enough to form a single-party government. Previous coalition governments have been plagued with instability that has negatively affected the economy. Such was the desire of that part of Turkish society that they did a return of a single-party AKP government. The relief that this did not happen has taken the edge off concerns over economic uncertainly — at least for the time being. When it comes to Erdogan, he had nothing to say on election night and has now been off-air for more than 24 hours, which is a record for him. However, although I wish for this, I doubt he is going to fade into the background and start carrying out his presidential duties as described in the Constitution. Erdogan does not and”doand” defeat and I doubt he is going to end his polarizing approach. No doubt he will try to strike back. If there is a failure to quickly create a coalition government, if early elections are called for or if a coalition fails and brings political and economic instability, he will use this as an argument to say he was correct about the need for a presidential system. However, I really believe he is deluding himself given that one of reasons voters rejected the AKP was because of his presidential system project. I hope this election marks the beginning of a new era for Turkish democracy. I hope we will see many of the undemocratic laws and policies put in place by the AKP in recent times rolled back that journalists will be able to breathe again and will no longer have to self-censor their work or live in fear of being arrested for something they have written. I also hope the election result will open the door to bringing back from the dead the investigations into corruption allegations against leading AKP figures as well as Erdoganand’s son Bilal. Turkey may face difficult days, but a new and promising chapter has opened.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman