DOIU – Lessons of the presidential elections

Lessons of the presidential electionsNow we have elected a new president. We should congratulate President-elect Recep Tayyip ErdoIan for his electoral victory, as well as ourselves for being able to elect our representatives without serious impediments.

How lasting the current political landscape proves to be will be determined by the general elections to be held next year It seems certain that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would like to call early elections in order to ride the wave of the recent electoral victory, capitalizing before the arrival of forthcoming economic and foreign policy difficulties, the signs of which are already evident.One thing is quite clear though: Concentration and personalization of power in the hands of the new president will drastically alter the parliamentary system and thwart the legal system to fit the needs of an obviously authoritarian president.

Electoral lessons:1- ErdoIan benefitted from the socio-political polarization in the country — for which he is mainly responsible — during his electoral campaign. But the politics of polarization in an unstable region may have an effect on a society surrounded by conflicting ethnic and religious groups that have extensions in the country.

Hence contentious and polarizing politics is dangerous.Furthermore, polarization and continuing conflict will most certainly forestall Turkeyand#39s much celebrated ambition of becoming the 10th largest economy in the world and an international power to be reckoned with in 10 years.

2- Politics and electoral success require sincerity. Several opposition parties endorsed a common candidate who it was thought would draw votes from the ruling AKP constituency.

His most salient qualities were his religious credibility and conservatism, plus his finesse in carrying them However, neither the whole of the Republican Peopleand#39s Party (CHP), nor the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)onstituencies accepted the candidate as their own. The election results proved that expediency and opportunism do not work as much as authenticity and sincerity in appealing to the electorate.

Running with a candidate whose qualities are closer to those of your opponent has exposed the impotence of the opposition parties in winning elections with their own world views and agendas. The electorate has driven the point home that opposition parties have lost contact with the people and the ability to perceive their concerns.

It is common knowledge now that emulating a winning party will not bring success.3- If opposition parties cannot win with candidates culturally closer to the incumbent partyand#39s constituency no matter how qualified he or she is, it is time to change themselves, not the candidate.

4- The AKP has exhausted the andldquoactive and assertiveandrdquo foreign policy it so ambitiously set out upon for two reasons. It has lost its EU perspective, which once generated so much excitement domestically as well as among its neighbors.

EU candidacy would have significantly increased Turkeyand#39s soft power and leverage.What was seen as Turkeyand#39s andldquohunting groundandrdquo until two years ago, the Middle East, is no longer a theater to aggrandize Turkeyand#39s economic and political expansion, but a quagmire that is depleting its energy and casting doubt on its near-abroad policy.

Ambitious foreign policy devoid of the basic means of leadership (economic, military, diplomatic) will only yield disillusionment and a number of problems, such as importing terrorism and refugees that cannot fully be accommodated.We have had to digest these new realities within the space of a few years but their official acknowledgement and the ability to change course takes time and requires a flexible political wisdom geared more toward realism than ideological fixations.

Insisting on a pre-industrial conservatism and religious — even denominational — biases in domestic and foreign policy may have bright moments, but they are not sustainable in the face of a complex world as well as a culturally and ethnically diverse society.Reaching the standard of a andldquocontemporary civilizationandrdquo requires being in tune with contemporary values, standards and practices.

The new president and the Cabinet will now have to think about these matters more than anyone else.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman