By Nick Danforth
September 23rd, 2015, The Turkey Analyst
Turkey’s democratic and authoritarian legacies have been thoroughly intertwined from the outset. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s authoritarian instincts have been both motivated and enabled by the authoritarian behavior of his predecessors. Yet Erdoğan is also restrained by institutional forces that remain in place because military and civilian leaders before him proved willing to step down and compromise. And he is moreover restrained by the instincts of voters and some within his own party who value Turkey’s democratic tradition.
Mümtazer Türköne in Zaman writes that both PKK and Erdoğan seem determined to finish off the HDP. After November 1, the HDP is not going to be in parliament. Erdoğan is going to repair the damages and will continue to build his autocracy; the PKK meanwhile, will have gotten the conditions it wanted so that it can escalate its “revolutionary people’s war” against a state that has lost its legitimacy and that is increasingly resorting to violence. The violence of the PKK is going to continue and intensify up until the November 1 election. The HDP is going to protest against the curfews and the practice of security zones as being expressions of “the oppression of the voters” and is going to boycott the election. The result: the AKP is going to get the majority with at least 300 deputies in parliament. The palace will get its undivided power back. And then, a bloodbath that will make us long for the present days will ensue. To use Demirtaş' expression, the violence is going to spread all the way to Bodrum (on the west coast.) The palace will maintain control for yet another period. But in the end, both – palace and PKK – are going to be the losers.
Etyen Mahçupyan in Akşam writes that AKP’s historical mission, simply put, was to bring those who had been excluded to power. This meant democratization, and the reconstruction of the center by the periphery. It is clear that the Kurdish issue and the solution process had a crucial function. What solution means is that what is “new” advances one more step, that one more strike is dealt at the resistance of the “old.” Lack of a solution, meanwhile, will be the harbinger of the failure of what is “new,” a sign that it is about to surrender to the “old.” For the AKP, making the advance toward a solution required distancing itself from the statist, “Turkish” nationalism, and the AKP’s understanding of religiosity supplied a suitable social and ideological basis for the new orientation. The best way of derailing the AKP’s reformism is to end the solution process. What will be the choice of the AKP in a situation when everyone else either wants to have the “old” back or – as in the case of HDP – has no influence left? Hang on to the “old?” Or carry the “new” itself?
Abdülkadir Selvi in Yeni Şafak writes that the Erdoğan-Davutoğlu agreement prevented a big danger for the AKP. At least, they did not allow the virus of “two lists” and “two candidates” to enter the body. Nonetheless, it would have been better if the AKP had not gone through an incident like this at all, which has no place in its tradition. History shows that when parties that symbolize stability lose their stability, Turkey loses its stability. Süleyman Demirel said that “My biggest political error was not preventing the split of the AP (in 1970), and not preventing the departure of those who formed the Democratic Party.” For the time being, the danger has been averted. How nice it was that the prime minister sent a message to the eleventh president Abdullah Gül in his speech. It is crucial that the status of names like Bülent Arınç, Ali Babacan, Taner Yıldız, Hüseyin Çelik, Sadullah Ergin and Beşir Atalay who were left out in the process now is preserved. To protect the unity of the AKP is absolutely crucial. Because we don’t know what awaits the AKP after the election. Since Gezi, people have become very divided. The most important thing that the AKP can do is to embrace our people. But first, AKP needs to be embracive internally.
Taha Akyol in Hürriyet writes that the new AKP is much more than ever before under the control of Erdoğan. One of the leading names of the party told me this on the phone the other day: “None of the names that Davutoğlu insisted on having on the party leadership was included in the list. Meanwhile, names that he emphatically did not want were all included in the list.” It is obvious that the same will go for the candidate lists for the election. After Abdullah Gül, Bülent Arınç has also been purged, and the founding cadres of the party have been neutralized. From now on, there will be no more different voices; there are few names left that can warn, and who can express societal diversity within the party. Of those who “departed,” Ali Babacan and Mehmet Şimşek were names who defended the independence of the Central Bank, economic rationality and European norms. Of the symbolic names, Sadullah Ergin and Osman Can are out of the list. Ergin was the architect of the judicial reforms that brightened the face of Turkey. Professor Osman Can meanwhile, was a lawyer who had made a career with his liberal views and who defended the EU’s legal framework. And speaking of the law, it is an important sign that the person who headed the mob that attacked the Hürriyet newspaper was elected to board of the party at the congress. And most importantly, the question is what kind of leverage a government who is headed by a prime minister who could not select his team and the party group in parliament is going to have!
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.