The AKP-CHP coalition which was in question after the 7 June 2015 elections is now on the verge of being formed – albeit with a four year delay, and with changing actors and structures. Will fundamental rights and freedoms and the rule of law become determinant factors in the “Brand New Turkey” where polarisation-based politics is finally losing influence?
Translation: Melissa Clissold / Subtitles: Egemen Gök
Hello, good day. Ekrem İmamoğlu won the June 23 elections with a single slogan. In fact, he re-won the second time around with a huge difference using the slogan: “Everything is going to be great.” Is everything going to be great? I don’t know, but I do think that the political balances within Turkey after June 23 will change and continue to fluctuate. Of course, it’s not easy to predict whether the political atmosphere is going to be good or great within the political balances that are being reshaped at the moment. But I do think that certain actors and institutions – including parties – will disappear or will have less of an impact; some will become stronger and of course new actors and new institutions will also come about.
This isn’t only relevant for those parties that will be formed as a result of breaking away from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) – and there are some serious developments in this respect; yesterday Ali Babacan, with his resignation from the AKP, openly began his ‘new party.’ The reactions to and the interest in the broadcast regarding this subject, showed me that there have been certain responses to this situation as well. Of course, they are at the very beginning of the road, how will this develop later? I don’t know, but in the upcoming period, we must really consider the disintegration of the AKP and the probability of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) moving away from its former strength and power. They displayed a somewhat meagre success in the June 23 elections – the Good Party (İYİ Parti), by taking an active role in the success of Ekrem İmamoğlu on March 31 and especially June 23 election, proved to us that the MHP has started to rust.
Therefore, it is possible that İYİ party, as a new actor, will play a different role in the upcoming period. There are new actors, or there are old actors with new roles. Up until now with the changes occurring in Turkey – we saw this on March 31 – first Ekrem İmamoğlu came up front and other mayors that won such as Mansur Yavaş, Tunç Soyer came to the front; yet here, we must also give credit to Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Meral Akşener – and even Temel Karamollaoğlu – and of course Selahattin Demirtaş.
We know that the explanations that Selahattin Demirtaş made before March 31 and June 23 were very effective. To oppose this situation, we know that the government wanted to get Öcalan involved, but this ended with failure. It looks like new names will be added to these actors in the following period; it looks like some actors will stay behind and of course in institutions – especially political parties – very serious changes are occurring – it looks like this will continue to happen.
Of course, the preference is AKP: Those leaving the party, disintegration… There is a very serious crisis. The AKP is drawing in a lot of attention. Yet, there is also a very serious change in the CHP too. I think what Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said to us in our conversation that took place in Istanbul two days before the election was very important and I know that this conversation also attracted the attention of the conservative fractions too. A different incident is taking place here, the CHP is heading towards something, and certain people from the right are also leaning towards the CHP. This, may not be about changing parties or ideology, yet may show itself in ways such as acting together with certain minimum mutual cooperation, as an alliance or becoming a coalition.
The turning point of all of this was not actually June 23, the turning point of this all was actually June 7, 2015. As a result of the elections on July 7, 2015, the AKP expressed the fact that they didn’t want to come into power alone. There, the probability of an alliance between the AKP and CHP arose and Erdoğan strangled it. Because of this, it is as if we are living a different version of this. Four years have passed, but when we look at it – of course a lot of terrible things occurred within these 4 years, a lot of people died, the economy hit rock bottom etc. – during that date, instead of the coalition that was to take place between the AKP-CHP, new coalitions that will form now, may be even better.
What sort of coalitions? As far as I see, in the upcoming period, it does not look likely that Erdoğan’s AKP will be a part of political power models. As opposed to this, the institutions, parties and persons that we see as the opposition, may become new actors within the political power arena. When we look at it in this respect, Ali Babacan’s party and maybe the party that Davutoğlu will form; but that is a low probability – instead of being a single party in power, in this brand-new Turkey, I see them as professing to being potential partners within a coalition. It is impossible to see the success or predict the election results of Ali Babacan as a political party leader. Yet, theoretically, but we must seriously consider the probability that he may join the alliance defined as the “People’s Alliance.”
On the other hand, another factor is this: I predict that that the “People’s Alliance” will continue to change in the upcoming period. I’m guessing that the HDP will also openly slowly become a part of certain coalitions as an essential actor. This game is not sustainable. What did the HDP do? In the latest elections they supported the People’s Alliance in big cities – especially the CHP candidate; but it didn’t do this as part of a coalition; even if they didn’t really want to do this, they consented to this. The CHP consented, the İYİ party consented, but in the upcoming period, I truly don’t think that this will be very sustainable, I think to sustain it would also be meaningless.
If especially Selahattin Demirtaş regains his freedom and actively returns to politics, I think that the situation will truly change. We are going to very different new parties, changing old parties; we will see certain actors coming to the forefront or being left behind within the parties and most importantly, I believe we will see that polarising politics based on arguments of identity will not be as useful as before.
This was exactly what happened on March 31 and June 23. We went through a process in which society said “Enough” to the tension politics that Erdoğan and Bahçeli were implementing. In the upcoming period, maybe certain tangible conditions may be created to ensure polarisation, certain tensions and chaos may be pursued; yet, when we look at it from where we are now, we can see that polarisation is being pushed towards the back and actors above and beyond the concept of polarisation are coming to the forefront and I believe this is where we are heading now.
When I mention “Brand New Turkey”, I believe that there is a high chance that democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms, new alliances formed within a state of law will come to the forefront. And I don’t think that Erdoğan’s AKP or Bahçeli’s MHP have the capacity to keep up with all of this. From the moment that this process was successful – of course March 31 and June 23 were important for this – there will be faster ruptures from those who have insisted in the past. There is for example, a curiosity regarding the new party that is to be formed, but this curiosity does not automatically convert into interest or participation – there is nowhere to participate in. There is no formation yet that has declared itself; but after a certain stage, even if it looks as if this may go ahead, there will be new participants here – I’m not only talking about parties that have been formed as a result of breaking away from the AKP, I also believe that interest will continue to increase for new formations that distance themselves from polarising discourses, that bring about democracy and pluralism.
What I see as a result of this, is a Brand New Turkey heading in a new positive direction that includes pluralistic democracy, a strengthening of fundamental rights and freedoms and the state of law being re-constructed. There will be a lot of people trying to sabotage this – yet, the moral precedence is heading in this direction. If this direction is constructed by actors meticulously, if these existing structures can be converted, and if existing actors can adapt to this Brand New Turkey, I believe their paths will be open.
A period is about to be closed in Turkey. In normal conditions, it is truly possible for it to be great, even better, in fact amazing; but as I mentioned before, the role here of political actors, political structures and non-governmental organisations will be important here. Of course, everyone thinks about argumentative politics; but Ekrem İmamoğlu, showed by himself, what can be achieved if we steer away from argumentative politics. If politicians and political parties continue to walk in this direction, they can truly reconstruct Turkey into a democratic country.
A chapter is closing and whilst this chapter comes to an end, those who don’t want to lose their power will struggle. And here the factor that truly needs a magical formula is this. The new actors must also construct a new discourse in order to allow those who have lost their power, to accept their loss. A completely new construction formed from a revenge-based, revanchist attitude is going to be very difficult; there is a lot that needs to be constructed and reconstructed. The oppurtunities they have in their hand to reconstruct all of this are limited, and those who are struggling against this construction still have a lot of power in their hands.
Therefore, if a realistic strategy is implemented, I believe that this issue is one that can be fixed easily. We will be discussing this a lot, because Turkey has entered a brand new phase. We will be talking about this in the upcoming periods, we will be talking about all of this with regards to the new parties or existing parties, but we can see that what we are discussing is more positive – and we can see one more time that before March 31 and in fact June 23, pessimistic discourse has not been hitting targets at all.
Yes, that’s all I have to say, good day.