By Halil Karaveli
January 25, 2024
Turkey’s new opposition leader Özgür Özel is proposing to do something that no one has attempted in Turkey since the early 1990s, to revive a social democratic alternative. Yet the CHP’s new leader is making a turn to the left under inauspicious circumstances. The right in its different shades is hegemonic and there is no societal clamor for social justice and equality. Meanwhile, the Turkish labor movement has been reduced to insignificance, depriving social democracy of a base of working class militancy. Yet rampant inequality needs to be addressed, and a left-wing message that addresses economic concerns can help transcend Turkey’s crippling ethnic divisions, encouraging Turkish and Kurdish lower classes to make common cause. It offers a way out of Turkey’s democratic impasse.
By Halil Karaveli
May 23, 2023
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s failure in the first round of Turkey’s presidential election is a testimony to the waning appeal of liberalism in the face of ethnic conflict and refugee flows. The Turkish nationalism on which Kılıçdaroğlu has fatefully stumbled is fuelled by the Kurdish challenge and the Syrian refugees. But it is also fed by a heightened sense of national insecurity in a global context of escalating geopolitical confrontation. The virulently nationalist rhetoric against the Syrian refugees that Kılıçdaroğlu has adopted in order to make himself a palatable choice to right wing Turkish nationalists does not necessarily offer him a path to victory. Tarnishing his image as a liberal and social democrat, he risks forfeiting the support of the Kurdish voters as well as the support of Turkish liberals and leftists.
By Barçın Yinanç
March 9, 2022
The Nation Alliance reasserts Turkey’s place in the West and as a Western democracy. In case of victory, the Turkish opposition alliance will orchestrate a careful distancing from Russia and reset Turkey’s relations with its Western allies. What the main Turkish opposition alliance holds forth is a return to the decades-long principles of the Turkish republic that will be marking its centenary this year. These include, notably, the principle of non-interference in internal affairs of other nations. The opposition pledges to “put an end to practices based on domestic political calculations and ideological approaches in foreign policy.”
By Halil Karaveli
October 6, 2022
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s potential candidacy in next year’s presidential election is causing tensions within Turkey’s six party main opposition alliance, raising doubts about the viability of the alternative alliance to the rule of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has rebounded in the polls. Turkey’s past, sociology and the right-wing character of the opposition alliance where the CHP is in ideological minority militate against the social democrat Kılıçdaroğlu’s presidential bid. And while Turkey’s long-standing culture war between seculars and religious conservatives may have come to an end, ethnic aspirations and rising socio-economic discontent – to which the left and the right respond differently – are bound to fuel societal conflict and make it difficult, if not impossible, to sustain a the left-right opposition alliance and the notion that there is a viable alternative to Erdoğan.
By Barış Soydan
March 24, 2022
While Turkey’s opposition alliance inspires little hope as an economic savior, its reduction of Turkey’s democratic deficit and crisis to a question of the power of the presidency and the solution to a restoration of parliamentarianism obfuscates what really cripples Turkish democracy. And as the opposition alliance has closed itself both to the left – ignoring the plight of a working class that is hard hit by the economic crisis – and to the representatives of the Kurdish minority, it cannot credibly claim that it will further the cause of democratic change. Even if the opposition alliance were to prevail electorally, which is by no means certain, it will not alter Turkey’s course.
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.