Results and lessons

The voters of Turkey have done it again! They said to the ruling party, and”I appreciate your services and social aid programs but I do not have to put up with your hubris, poisonous talk about the andlsquoothers,and’ the imposition of what is good for me and your insistence on unaccountability in the use of the money and power I have relegated to you!and” The warning came with a reduction of 9 percent in party support compared to the last general election.
Yet the electors still preferred the Justice and Development Party (AKP) over the others, with 41 percent support. This is 15 percent more than the next party in line, the Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP). If the AKP gets this message and reevaluates its mistakes, it may remain as the primary contender in Turkish politics. However, to do this it must return to its reformist stance and shed the authoritarian tendencies that alienated a segment of its supporters. It must also try to release itself from the suffocating grip of its former leader who turned the party into a support group for his personal ambition to become an omnipotent and unaccountable president. Can that be done by preserving the integrity of the party? It remains to be seen.
For now the AKP resembles a football team pulled back to the benches to give way to a new team. The game will be carried on by three former opposition parties. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will play defense. The CHP will occupy the midfield. The true winner of the election, the Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP), will play forward. Indeed the HDP is expected to score goals in transforming contentious Turkish politics to a more peaceful type and to try to build consensus and cooperation among political partiesactors. The so called and”peace processand” is more likely to come to fruition with the HDPand’s strong presence in Parliament and its call for multiculturalism and decentralization of the administrative system.
The new government is expected to end the self-imposed isolation of the AKP government. Islamization of daily life and international affiliations has caused both unrest in the country and estrangement from the international community. A coalition government may correct these deviations.
The strongest message out of the ballot box is to reconcile differences among people and cohabiting peacefully. All major identity groups have representation in the new Parliament. Religious conservatives (AKP) and secular modernists (CHP) on the one hand, Turkish (MHP) and Kurdish ethnic identities (HDP) on the other, are now represented by their own parties. In return for this diversity the electors want reconciliation and consensus from them. This is not only a necessity it is the duty of the elected cadres.
If this clear message is not perceived by the political parties who have been voted into Parliament they may be cast out in the next election. The same is true for the parties who refuse to reconcile to form a coalition government and push for an early election. The fixation of Turkish politics on only the deeds and decisions of the government that commanded an overwhelming majority in the Parliament ossified Turkeyand’s democracy, economic development and international relations. Reforms in every field have been held back and the country came to the brink of economic crisis and authoritarian rule. The creative dynamism of the government has to be restored. The AKP lost its proactive initiative because it had limited its reformism to lifting tutelary restrictions on the civilian government and conveying marginal groups to the political and economic center. Then it stopped fulfilling its mission of consolidating democracy and pluralism. Now the new coalition government has to carry on from where the AKP left or deviated from its historic mission.
The electors have pulled the AKP team to the side and want the united opposition to play. They want them to develop a common wisdom. If these parties neglect the common good and insist on the interests of their own party, a coalition government will not be formed. That will mean an early election. But the people will not forgive any party that misses the chance that is been given to partake in the ruling of the country.
Finally, the 10 percent election threshold, which kept first religious groups and then later the Kurds out of representational politics, is undemocratic, even unethical.
Let us ask ourselves: If the right that is denied to others does not come back to me as more rights or the freedom withheld does not return to me as more freedom, then why deny other citizens these democratic gains?

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman