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HomeHeadlineThe Problem of Lack of Opposition in Turkey-2

The Problem of Lack of Opposition in Turkey-2

The politics of Turkey differs in many respects from that of Europe and North America. Especially when we focus on political parties, a few points immediately catch the eye. First and foremost, political parties and political movements in Turkey have serious issues related to fundamental human rights – that is, in terms of values. In other words, although political parties seem to formally embrace fundamental human rights, it is not the case in practice.

Another difference lies in ideological orientations. Despite their declared political orientations, parties in Turkey can have very different approaches from those orientations. Even according to basic political evaluation criteria such as left-right or social democrat-conservative distinctions, there are significantly different approaches among parties in Turkey compared to examples in the world.

Another characteristic is related to the concept of the state in Turkish politics. The state is a concept in Turkish politics that is attributed with sanctity, seen as divine, and fetishized. All parties consider protecting and safeguarding the existing “state” as their primary duty. This makes it difficult to transform the state, solidifies the existing structure, and blocks the path of democratization and the rule of law.

Additionally, another crucial point that must be highlighted is the main ideological references of political parties. All political parties are primarily nourished by two main streams: religion and nationalism. Lastly, all political parties in Turkey are institutions produced by the Unionist-Kemalist tradition. Therefore, in their stance, attitude, and behavior towards the world and domestically, as well as in terms of their own organizational structures, they continue the discourse and tradition of the Unionist-Kemalist tradition.

The issue of human rights has continuously faced similar problems since the Tanzimat period. All parties emphasize the claim that Turkey’s conditions pose an obstacle to implementing human rights practices at world standards. Even progress-oriented parties get stuck on the “realities of Turkey” issue. Many parties try the strategy of increasing their vote share by adapting to Turkey’s conditions. They assume that very progressive and reform-oriented parties cannot be successful. Furthermore, when addressing human rights issues, the perception that very progressive human rights practices would benefit the rival party bases leads many parties, once in power, to drag their feet on advancing human rights.

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The reason for this is the absence of a fair competition tradition in Turkish politics. In other words, ethical deficiency. Moreover, the marginalization of opposing groups and the existing polarization not only limit the demands for human rights for all but also lead to an approach limited to improvements in their own human rights issues. This further intensifies existing polarization, hinders the establishment of the necessary culture of consensus, and most importantly, undermines progress in human rights.

In the ideological context, a more dramatic picture emerges. The topic is long and complex, but it can be summarized as follows: 1) There is no harmony between some parties’ declared names and the worldviews they seem to advocate or their actual ideologies. 2) Another problem is that some parties are disconnected from global political trends in universal or international terms. As an example of the first point, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) should be mentioned first. Although CHP is a member of the Socialist International, there is significant inconsistency between this party and the ideology of democratic socialism and social democracy that form the backbone of this organization.

The European left is based on liberal democracy and human rights. Its adoption of a social market economy to build a welfare state in the economy does not hinder its embracing of liberal democratic values and basic freedoms. Another difference lies in its references to the Marxist literature in economic policies. CHP is neither a party that internalizes liberal democracy and basic freedoms nor does it have any connection to the interpretations of Marxist economic policy made by European socialism. CHP is a party whose main backbone is the neo-Unionist-Kemalist version of Kemalist nationalism, which is an old-fashioned, top-down despotic single-party modernization. In this regard, it is impossible to say that CHP is a social democratic party.

For the second example, nearly all Turkish parties can be given. Generally, these parties are nourished by Islamic conservatism and Turkish nationalism ideologies, and they do not have an equivalent in the world in a universal or international sense. From the Good Party (İYİP) to the Felicity Party (Saadet Partisi), from Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) to Future Party (Gelecek Partisi), all parties are like this. If you ask what the main policy orientations of these parties are, you can easily see that none of the answers have any meaning in an international and universal context.

The common feature of these parties is that they have accepted the “playing field” defined by the regime for themselves. Another feature is their locality. Let me explain: The regime defined the new playing field of politics at Yenikapı. Both the existing parties and those established later must exist in this playing field. The main rule of this playing field is to accept the regime’s discourse. The essence of this discourse is formed by the civilian coup d’état in 2013. According to this, the events of December 17, 2013, were a civilian coup attempt. The corruption operation was a fabrication. Initially, both CHP and MHP, which were opposition at the time, accepted that the corruption operation was a legitimate and legal operation that exposed the thefts of the government.

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However, after the intervention of the deep state and the release of deep state elements imprisoned in the Ergenekon (and other coup trials) trials, followed by their collaboration with Erdoğan, they changed their stance. Thus, they became a part of the regime. Ironically, the thieving government and the coupist deep state made a civil coup while pretending to oppose a civil coup. They connected the judiciary to the executive branch and eliminated the balance and control mechanisms that limited the power of the executive within the state. In this way, they created a power that is unlimited, deviating from its constitutional architecture.

Everyone opposing this new regime was declared a traitor and terrorist, and these opponents were eliminated by the so-called judiciary, which they called the “dog of politics.” The reason for this was the fact that the tradition of fair competition had not been established in Turkish politics. In other words, ethical deficiency. In addition, the marginalization of opposing groups and the existing polarization not only limit the demands for human rights for all but also lead to an approach limited to improvements in their own human rights issues. This further intensifies existing polarization, hinders the establishment of the necessary culture of consensus, and most importantly, undermines progress in human rights.

In the ideological context, a more dramatic picture emerges. The topic is long and complex, but it can be summarized as follows: 1) There is no harmony between some parties’ declared names and the worldviews they seem to advocate or their actual ideologies. 2) Another problem is that some parties are disconnected from global political trends in universal or international terms. As an example of the first point, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) should be mentioned first. Although CHP is a member of the Socialist International, there is significant inconsistency between this party and the ideology of democratic socialism and social democracy that form the backbone of this organization.

The European left is based on liberal democracy and human rights. Its adoption of a social market economy to build a welfare state in the economy does not hinder its embracing of liberal democratic values and basic freedoms. Another difference lies in its references to the Marxist literature in economic policies. CHP is neither a party that internalizes liberal democracy and basic freedoms nor does it have any connection to the interpretations of Marxist economic policy made by European socialism. CHP is a party whose main backbone is the neo-Unionist-Kemalist version of Kemalist nationalism, which is an old-fashioned, top-down despotic single-party modernization. In this regard, it is impossible to say that CHP is a social democratic party.

For the second example, nearly all Turkish parties can be given. Generally, these parties are nourished by Islamic conservatism and Turkish nationalism ideologies, and they do not have an equivalent in the world in a universal or international sense. From the Good Party (İYİP) to the Felicity Party (Saadet Partisi), from Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) to Future Party (Gelecek Partisi), all parties are like this. If you ask what the main policy orientations of these parties are, you can easily see that none of the answers have any meaning in an international and universal context.

The common feature of these parties is that they have accepted the “playing field” defined by the regime for themselves. Another feature is their locality. Let me explain: The regime defined the new playing field of politics at Yenikapı. Both the existing parties and those established later must exist in this playing field. The main rule of this playing field is to accept the regime’s discourse. The essence of this discourse is formed by the civilian coup d’état in 2013. According to this, the events of December 17, 2013, were a civilian coup attempt. The corruption operation was a fabrication. Initially, both CHP and MHP, which were opposition at the time, accepted that the corruption operation was a legitimate and legal operation that exposed the thefts of the government. However, after the intervention of the deep state and the release of deep state elements imprisoned in the Ergenekon (and other coup trials) trials, followed by their collaboration with Erdoğan, they changed their stance.

Thus, they became a part of the regime. Ironically, the thieving government and the puchist deep state made a civil coup while pretending to oppose a civil coup. They connected the judiciary to the executive branch and eliminated the balance and control mechanisms that limited the power of the executive within the state. In this way, they created a power that is unlimited, deviating from its constitutional architecture.

Everyone opposing this new regime was declared a traitor and terrorist, and these opponents were eliminated by the so-called judiciary, which they called the “dog of politics.” The reason for this was the fact that the tradition of fair competition had not been established in Turkish politics. In other words, ethical deficiency. Moreover, the marginalization of opposing groups and the existing polarization not only limit the demands for human rights for all but also lead to an approach limited to improvements in their own human rights issues. This further intensifies existing polarization, hinders the establishment of the necessary culture of consensus, and most importantly, undermines progress in human rights.

In the ideological context, a more dramatic picture emerges. The topic is long and complex, but it can be summarized as follows: 1) There is no harmony between some parties’ declared names and the worldviews they seem to advocate or their actual ideologies. 2) Another problem is that some parties are disconnected from global political trends in universal or international terms.

As an example of the first point, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) should be mentioned first. Although CHP is a member of the Socialist International, there is significant inconsistency between this party and the ideology of democratic socialism and social democracy that form the backbone of this organization.

The European left is based on liberal democracy and human rights. Its adoption of a social market economy to build a welfare state in the economy does not hinder its embracing of liberal democratic values and basic freedoms. Another difference lies in its references to the Marxist literature in economic policies. CHP is neither a party that internalizes liberal democracy and basic freedoms nor does it have any connection to the interpretations of Marxist economic policy made by European socialism.

CHP is a party whose main backbone is the neo-Unionist-Kemalist version of Kemalist nationalism, which is an old-fashioned, top-down despotic single-party modernization. In this regard, it is impossible to say that CHP is a social democratic party.

For the second example, nearly all Turkish parties can be given. Generally, these parties are nourished by Islamic conservatism and Turkish nationalism ideologies, and they do not have an equivalent in the world in a universal or international sense. From the Good Party (İYİP) to the Felicity Party (Saadet Partisi), from Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) to Future Party (Gelecek Partisi), all parties are like this. If you ask what the main policy orientations of these parties are, you can easily see that none of the answers have any meaning in an international and universal context.

The common feature of these parties is that they have accepted the “playing field” defined by the regime for themselves. Another feature is their locality. Let me explain: The regime defined the new playing field of politics at Yenikapı. Both the existing parties and those established later must exist in this playing field. The main rule of this playing field is to accept the regime’s discourse.

The essence of this discourse is formed by the civilian coup d’état in 2013. According to this, the events of December 17, 2013, were a civilian coup attempt. The corruption operation was a fabrication. Initially, both CHP and MHP, which were opposition at the time, accepted that the corruption operation was a legitimate and legal operation that exposed the thefts of the government.

However, after the intervention of the deep state and the release of deep state elements imprisoned in the Ergenekon (and other coup trials) trials, followed by their collaboration with Erdoğan, they changed their stance. Thus, they became a part of the regime. Ironically, the thieving government and the coupist deep state made a civil coup while pretending to oppose a civil coup. They connected the judiciary to the executive branch and eliminated the balance and control mechanisms that limited the power of the executive within the state.

In this way, they created a power that is unlimited, deviating from its constitutional architecture. Everyone opposing this new regime was declared a traitor and terrorist, and these opponents were eliminated by the so-called judiciary, which they called the “dog of politics.” The reason for this was the fact that the tradition of fair competition had not been established in Turkish politics. In other words, ethical deficiency.

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Dr. MEHMET EFE CAMAN
Dr. MEHMET EFE CAMAN
Dr. Mehmet Efe Caman is a Scholar of Politics at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN). Dr. Caman’s main research focuses on Democracy, democratization and human rights, Turkish politics, the Middle East, Eurasian politics and post-Soviet regions, the European Union. He has published a monograph on Turkish foreign policy, numerous book chapters and scholarly articles in English, German and Turkish about topics related to his research areas.
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