DOIU – Portrait of Turkey after elections

Portrait of Turkey after electionsWhat a week we have left behind! Turkey chose its first president by popular vote. A candidate who has not refrained from publicly declaring that he intends to transform the political system into a presidential one won in the first round.

Jockeying for the prime ministerial post that has been left empty by Recep Tayyip ErdoIan has led to a covert commotion in the Justice and Development Party (AKP).The same is true for the leadership positions of the opposition parties, namely the Republican Peopleand#39s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), that are the apparent losers of the election.

Having lost consecutive elections, these parties have to review their relationship with the electorate and come to grips with the changing realities of society and the world.In short, politics in Turkey have entered a new phase that is driven by the AKP and its desire to bring all the power into the hands of the executive on the one hand and that is necessitated by an urgent overhaul of the ineffective and outdated opposition on the otherWhat about foreign policy? There is a new rogue state to the south of our borders that has the potential to change borders and the political landscape.

Although how long it will last is unknown, it has already changed the political configuration and alliances in the region. The civil war in Syria, which we have been a part of by way of supporting opposition groups fighting against the government, and Iraqand#39s suicidal politics inspire no hope for a better and more stable region where Turkey can feel safe and engaged.

In fact both countries have people and ethnic-religious groups with extensions in Turkey that have a tendency to bring their conflicts into the country. Hence discrimination against one of these elements and taking sides with one of them may destabilize Turkey.

Turkish foreign policy needs fine-tuning and careful neutrality, except in humanitarian affairs.One of the most important developments in war-torn Syria and Iraq has been the rise of the Kurdistan Workersand#39 Party (PKK).

Taking responsibility for the defense and participating in the rescue operations of the Yazidis, Turkmens and Christians who are under threat from the ruthless Islamic State (IS), the PKK has won acclaim and legitimacy in both Turkey and the world.Now let us review what we have learned from the recent elections:1.

Politics in Turkey are shaped by identities. Programs and ideologies are less visible.

On the one side there is a mass of conservative people who have accepted religion and tradition as the guiding force in their lives. This mass is approximately 35 percent of the electorate.

They constitute enough to make the party they support win every election. Its identity is Sunni Islam and is poised against the Shiite, the Alevi and the Caferi.

On the other side is the mass of people who may be labeled as secular and modern who see the previous group as an existential threat to their values. They constitute about 25 percent of the electorate.

2 Besides the vertical axis described above there is a horizontal axis of identity based on ethnicity. On the one end there is Turkish nationalism and on the other there is Kurdish nationalism They oppose each otherWhat has so far been described is a conflicting political scene with irreconcilable poles that make it hard to produce a stable society and polity.

Unfortunately, dangers of identity politics have not been properly understood by Turkish politicians who benefit from polarization.If this polarized political spectrum is not reconciled by the rule of law, common ideals and shared values within a framework of power-sharing in Parliament, central and local governments, maintaining political stability and sense of nationhood will get harder in Turkey.

Considering that the judiciary has been made an adjunct of the executive the (AKP) government has been the sole owner of the state. Power has been centralized at a juncture where it should be shared and diffused, and social cohesion and political reconciliation is rather hard.

Turkish nationalists are suffering from the feeling of disenfranchisement. Kurdish nationalists are suffering from the feeling of exclusion and repression.

Seculars and modernists feel overwhelmed and disempowered by the religious conservatives. Presently there seems to be no middle ground where these groups can get together and share common causes, values and power It is hard for such a society to carry on the claim of becoming the 10th biggest economy of the world in 10 years and becoming a leading international force to reckon with.

Polarization has a personal dimension as well. ErdoIan has a brilliant track record of winning elections.

With this prestige and leverage he has personally built and managed his party to fit his needs and commands. There is no second person.

He has personally selected the members of Parliament and the bureaucracy. He has deprived the armed forces of their de facto political role.

The party, the government and the state apparatus are now set to function only with his fingerprint and retina code only.Squeezed between identity and personalized politics, Turkish citizens all have to think whether it is a healthy thing to transform the parliamentary system into a presidential one and render all power to a single man without the checks and balances of a presidential system existent in democratic countries where rule of law and power-sharing between central and local governments are in place?I will continue.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman