Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Election, the AK Party, the CH-MH-P and the independents

With two days to go to the election, personal notes on the general view

With not even three months passed since the 27 April military memorandum, it would be no doubt unrealistic to genuinely expect anything to come from this election. As long as the military guardianship over democracy in Turkey is not removed, can elections go any further than being toys of the ‘game of politics’ serving to keep us occupied?

The stage of the game of politics has been narrowing for years. Reforms made according to the Copenhagen Criteria in line with the EU negotiation process, many of which remained on paper, an economy surrendered to the IMF’s programs, a social life organized by a coarse elite, a democratic system turned over to the fatal balance of internal and external sensitivities and red lines and the Kurdish problem...

A populist tradition of opposition based on lies, which endlessly speaks out about some of these issues to fire illegitimate blows at the ruling party but continues to apply the same policies when they come to power...

Let’s not mince our words. Since none of the issues which have left Turkey mired in political crisis have been solved and since they have only been shelved for a while, it is impossible for the elections to be a cure for so many troubles like a magic wand.

The AK Party

Public opinion polls show that the AK Party (Justice and Development Party) will repeat its success in the 2002 general, and that it might in fact surpass by a few points the 34 % vote it gained then. This success, gained despite the all-out assault of all other parties will mean a lot for AK Party supporters.

Following a probable election success, first the presidency test, and then a widespread test of ‘becoming civilian’ awaits the AK Party. It will no doubt be a significant acquisition in the name of the normalization of the political field if the party passes these tests with determined steps and does not show an inclination towards the discourse of the nationalist-militarist flank.

The AK Party does not look like it will renounce its liberal policies which disregard the rights of workers and salary paid employees we mentioned above. The party will continue to follow a two-way strategy, and protect the interests of capital on the macro scale, and focus on ‘helping the poor’ campaigns of regional administrations to keep warm ties with the poor on a micro scale. This means that the left-socialist opposition will have an important duty in making visible the deficiencies of this strategy.

We see that the mind of the AK Party isn’t that clear in the field of democratic openings they are so ambitious about, when we reconsider the fact that they haven’t taken a single step to remove the headscarf ban, they haven’t changed Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Law, they stood by and watched as the gang who carried out the Hrant Dink murder was described as ‘a group of friends’ by a police chief, and also the law which increased the powers of the police which was rushed through parliament immediately after the announcement of the decision for elections and the official terror experienced in Istanbul on 1 May 2007.

Since I have called this ‘personal notes’ at the beginning of the article, let us conclude our section about the AK Party with a personal reproach/complaint. The writer of these lines, who, for being one of the speakers at the ‘Armenian Conference’ in 2005, was accused, along with 40 other academicians, of ‘treachery’ and ‘stabbing the homeland in the back’ by the minister of justice Cemil Çiçek and who, from then on was sentenced to live in constant disquietude since having managed with this academic presentation to ‘successfully’ fast-track his name on to traitors lists making the rounds on the Internet, will forever approach the AK Party, who has failed to discharge ‘patriotism-meters’ like Çiçek, and its claims to democracy, with suspicion.

CH-MH-P

Despite its huge efforts to benefit from the polarization strategy it has adopted to combat the AK Parti, the CHP (Republican Peoples' Party), under the leadership of Deniz Baykal, continues to fail to increase its votes.

Deniz Baykal has constantly sewn seeds of separatism and antagonism by creating traitor bogeymen for this end. He glorified nationalism which attempted to lynch those seeking their rights in the streets, he hampered the reforms for non-muslim foundations, and he belted the drums that called the coupists to duty with great appetite.

The CHP thus tried to hide its political incompetence and the fact that it was detached from the problems of the majority of the population and to gain power against the AK Party, but at the point we are, this strategy has mostly given rise to the general establishment of racism, discrimination, violence and militarism in the centre of politics.

This dark track which the CHP has widened with great effort will see the real owner of the sphere, the MHP (Nationalist Action Party), blaze through, with no obstacles in its way whatsoever. We may see that the vote of the MHP, which was 18 % in the 1999 elections and 8 % in the 2002 elections reach 20 % on Sunday night.

The sum of the votes of the DSP and the CHP in the 1999 elections was 31 %. If the CHP gets less than this percentage on 22 July, this may mean it has effectively come to the end of its political life. The route the urban middle and urban classes loyal to the line CHP will take will be of vital importance in terms of Turkey’s future.

The Independents

On 1 June 2007 we had defended the idea that the independent candidates could be an important step in passing beyond the unjust election threshold and that an opposition group formed in Parliament by the coming together of the Kurdish movement, prevented from representation in Parliament for years, and democratic leftwing circles could be an important centre of attraction with the criticism it would target at the regime.

What was more significant here, in our view, was not ‘sending’ the representatives of libertarians, socialists and the oppressed to Parliament, but to open a network of connections which could organize opposition in the congested political arena and to open a new political field with the post-election period in mind.

The rupture experienced as early as the candidate determination stage with the DTP (Democratic Society Party) which formed the mass basis of the independent candidates project greatly jeopardized Baskın Oran’s chances. The candidacy of Ufuk Uras in the 1st electoral precinct caused cracks within his party the ÖDP (Freedom and Solidarity Party), which was another serious problem.

As a result, the success of independent candidates in the elections will be significant for the Kurds who have not been represented in Parliament for years, but we have to acknowledge that leftist-socialist circles did not fair positively in this process. A strategy focusing on getting 65 thousand votes in Istanbul to be elected instead of struggle and fundamental organization, may be doomed to disperse completely in the event of failure at the ballot-box.

A great number of volunteers have put in a huge amount of hard work for weeks both for Baskın Oran’s and for Ufuk Uras’s campaigns. It is impossible to disregard this hard work and not respect those involved. Despite all negativities as a sign of respect to this dissident stance, I will support independent candidates within the spirit of civil disobedience and cast my vote in Samatya for Baskın Oran.

June 20, 2007

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