Uncertainties ahead

The insistence of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) on the 10 percent election threshold introduced by the military regime is not only flaw in democracy but now seems to be challenging the AKP majority in the next Parliament, no matter whether it emerges as the top party in the election.
It is estimated that if the AKP gets 43 percent of the vote and the Kurdish Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP) overcomes the hurdle, the AKP may not win the 276 seats necessary to form a government. This probability raises the fears of the AKP leadership, which is accused of corruption and irregularities that might be the basis of the prosecution of some of its members.
In the 2002 election, which enabled the AKP to rule the country singlehandedly, the 10 percent election barrier offered 64 percent of the parliamentary seats in return for 34 percent of the overall vote. This time the same barrier may not allow for such a disproportionate victory even if the AKP receives less than 45 percent of the vote. This of course depends on whether the HDP overcomes the 10 percent barrier or not.
If the AKP does not come out with a clear majority as it did in the previous elections, observers are expecting an uncertain, if not turbulent, future for Turkey. What kind of a coalition will rule? On what premises and promises will it be formed? How democratic and conciliatory will it be? Can the downward trend of the economy be reversed? Can Turkeyand’s tarnished international image and diminished standing be repaired? These questions require realistic planning and strong political will by the partners of the new government.
Before everything else the great polarization and conflict-breeding antagonism among political parties and social cohorts will have to end. The AKP has succeeded in equalizing the excluded, parochial, culturally marginal (conservative religious) social cohorts with the leading urban, modern and secular segments of society. However, empowering them through the political and economic instruments of the state did not work to alleviate social conflicts because this process was realized by demonizing and estranging, if not declaring war on, the former and”good citizens.and”
The power and privileges offered to the and”newcomersand” were presented as their rightful gain but were the usurped rights of the former. Hence, a common ground on which different social, cultural and ethnic groups could coexist and cooperate was not created. Politics has become a battleground on which the AKP kept its supporters under constant vigil and displayed animosity against the and”others.and” Society lost its sense of nationhood. National identity that was built on Turkishness was replaced by Sunni Islam, an exclusive definition of citizenry that sought the homogenization of the nation.
Exclusive citizenship and the search for a homogenized society inevitably led to a concentration of power. The AKP leadership dropped its democratic claims after its second electoral victory and began to shape the party as an instrument of its leader, who wished to fashion society along obscure Islamic principles tempered by material gains. This meant a presidential system without checks and balances.
The stated aim cannot be realized without a clear popular mandate or strict control of the instruments of the state. The AKP wants both. In order to achieve this end the party leadership wanted to build a loyal following using nepotism, corruption, disregard for the rule of law, loyalty over merit in appointments and the exploitation of economic resources for personalgroup interests.
Religion became a political ideology exploited for the political solidarity of supporters but to exclude the secular segments of society, Alevis and non-Muslims. Ethical values were sacrificed to material gains or power plays. The economic resources of the nation were used to buttress party rule and later to satisfy the hunger of the ruling group with humble backgrounds. What could have been productive capital was squandered on luxury spending and ostentatious offices and residences, shopping malls and expensive cars for every position holder in the administration. This exclusiveness came with a growing insensitivity for the working class, the pensioners and the small and medium-sized businesses sector.
All of these are contrary to the very existence of the AKP, whose name bears witness to its existence: Justice and Development. Caught in the and”middle-income trapand” and a lesser democracy, with stalled development and long-forgotten justice due to the disregard of its government for the rule of law, the forthcoming election is more critical than ever for Turkey.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman