The paradox in Turkish politics

When analysts looks at Turkey from the West, they are utterly confused about the big picture. At the heart of the confusion is the fact that an increasingly autocratic political leader who wants to centralize decision-making in Turkey with a presidential system is also the best hope for solving the Kurdish problem whose solution requires decentralization and democratization.

This big picture assumes that the Kurdish political movement and the political leader in question, Recep Tayyip

When analysts looks at Turkey from the West, they are utterly confused about the big picture. At the heart of the confusion is the fact that an increasingly autocratic political leader who wants to centralize decision-making in Turkey with a presidential system is also the best hope for solving the Kurdish problem whose solution requires decentralization and democratization.

This big picture assumes that the Kurdish political movement and the political leader in question, Recep Tayyip ErdoIan , have reached an understanding whereby ErdoIan will offer what the Kurds want in return for Kurdish support for the establishment of a presidential regime.

This big picture of Turkish politics represents a strange paradox.

This bizarre state of affairs generates more questions than answers. Why would the Kurds believe ErdoIan ? After all, it is impossible to centralize decision making in Ankara while allowing more autonomy to Kurds in another part of the country.

Also, why would ErdoIan risk losing Turkish nationalists by supporting Kurdish demands? Given the basic facts of demographics on the ground, ErdoIan has a better chance of achieving his political objective of a presidential regime by courting the nationalist voters than by betting his political future on the Kurdish minority. As we approach the June elections for the Turkish Grand National Assembly, where all the political scores and calculations will ultimately and hopefully be settled, the big paradox outlined above is getting murkier

ErdoIan is no longer talking about striking a deal with the Kurds to give them broader rights.

Instead he has recently adopted a much more nationalist discourse. He even denied the existence of a Kurdish problem in Turkey.

ErdoIan also lashed out at the government for allowing the Kurdish party to read a 10-point list of democratic demands on television, and declared his opposition to giving in to the Kurdish demand for a commission to monitor the peace process. All this led to confusion and rumors of discord between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government under Prime Minister Ahmet DavutoIlu and President ErdoIan .

The picture is equally confusing on the Kurdish front. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) needs a minimum of 10 percent of the national vote to make it into Parliament.

The HDP has been trying to refashion itself as the new, liberal alternative for Turks and Kurds with considerable success. The Kurdish party’s co-chairman, Selahattin DemirtaI, has repeatedly stated that there is no secret deal between ErdoIan and the Kurdish political movement.

On March 17, DemirtaI declared that his party would never help ErdoIan realize his ambitions for presidential rule. Such political jockeying on the part of ErdoIan is understandable given the rise of the ultranationalist Nationalist Action Party (MHP) in the opinion polls.

The Turkish nationalists and the Turkish military have a hard time digesting the fact that a Kurdish, pro-Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) political party is running most municipalities in Turkey’s Kurdish southeast while pro-PKK activists in the de facto Kurdish capital Diyarbakir are putting into place a local parliament and other trappings of a Kurdish state.

ErdoIan is therefore courting both the nationalist camp and the Turkish military before the June elections.

His goal is to stop the flow of AKP voters to the MHP. The HDP is also trying its best to win votes from the CHP by adopting a firm stance against ErdoIan and his plans for a presidential regime.

As a result, both ErdoIan and the Kurdish political movement are doing their best to increase their votes prior to the June elections. Both ErdoIan and the Kurds know that they need each other to strike a deal after the elections.

Both parties also know that their bargaining power depends of the number of seats they will have in Parliament. The MHP and the HDP are two political parties on the rise.

While the HDP is growing at the expense of the CHP, the MHP is doing so at the expense of the AKP. This situation explains why the current dynamics of antagonism between the HDP and the AKP may change once the election is over We may soon be back in the paradox of Turkish politics

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN