By M. K. Kaya (vol. 4, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
The June 12 general election was historic as it was the first general election in Turkey over which the shadow of the military and the other institutions of tutelage did not fall. Yet the ruling party’s tactics ensured that the election campaign still took place in an environment whose atmosphere was all but democratic. The elections underlined Turkey’s traditional split between a rightist majority and a leftist minority; it also showed that the AKP and the Kurdish BDP – the election’s main winner – both benefited from the polarized electoral environment; further, the main opposition CHP’s impossibly eclectic crop of candidates had too little of a common denominator to challenge the AKP. It will now be up to the new parliament to put the divisive campaign behind it and achieve a new constitution through compromise. Whether that is at all likely nevertheless remains doubtful.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 9 of the Turkey Analyst)
In late April 2011, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) announced their manifestos for the Turkish general election on June 12, 2011. It is rare for political parties to deliver on all of their pre-election commitments; and many of the promises in both documents are anyway manifestly unworkable. Nevertheless, the content of the CHP’s manifesto demonstrates how far it has moved – in rhetoric at least – towards becoming a fully-fledged social democratic party since Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu became leader in May 2010. But, for the AKP, which currently appears set to win a comfortable majority on June 12, it is not its promises but its silences that cause the most concern; particularly its failure even to formulate policies to address the deepening alienation of the country’s Kurdish minority.
By M. K. Kaya and Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 3, no. 20 of the Turkey Analyst)
The dominance of the Justice and development party (AKP) and the prospect of a perpetuation of the party’s rule for another term are creating a momentum for alternatives that hold the promise of rearranging the Turkish political landscape. The recent suggestion that the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) form an electoral alliance may not be as far-fetched as it appears. Such an alliance would enable the opposition to seriously challenge the AKP.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 3, no. 19 of the Turkey Analyst)
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s party (CHP), Turkey’s main opposition party, has now decisively taken charge of the party. He signals that a departure from old, ideological habits is impending and vows that the “New CHP” will introduce freedom. However, there is a fateful disconnect between Kılıçdaroğlu’s message and the resentments of the core constituency of his party. Kılıçdaroğlu will have difficulty escaping the fate that is usually reserved for well-meaning reformers who challenge the certainties of ossified belief systems.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 3, no. 17 of the Turkey Analyst)
The election of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in May 2010 transformed the Turkish political landscape. After a decade in which it had appeared jaded and anachronistic, the party suddenly seemed set for a resurgence. Less than five months later, the initial excitement has evaporated. Not only has the CHP failed to sustain the momentum generated by Kılıçdaroğlu’s election, but it now looks in danger of losing direction. Kılıçdaroğlu has yet to announce a cohesive policy program or even a team which could formulate one; fuelling doubts about whether his promise in May 2010 to reinvent the CHP as a social democratic party was anything more than empty rhetoric – while his public commitment to abolishing the headscarf ban in universities has alienated the CHP’s support base among hard-line secularists.
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.