Turkey is facing multiple and complex dangers with an increasingly volatile security situation in its south-eastern border. Considering advances of both Kurdish forces and ISIS militants as “threatening”, the interim government is clearly contemplating military measures. Faced with a possibility of another wave of refugees from Syria, Ankara’s growing anxiety about developments at its southern frontier is understandable.
What I find very difficult to fathom is that the detoriating security situation and negative impact the continuing uncertainty is having on the economy are not enough to concentrate politicians’ attention.
I had not shared the widespread view that the June 7th election represented a watershed in Turkish politics. While it was a significant blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to boost his powers, I believed it was too early to predict the end of an era.
Turkey went into elections in a polarized and tense atmosphere with the governing party and the president using state assets for an unfair advantage over their opponents. Yet, Turkish voters delivered an unmistakeable rebuke to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party. A 60 % of the electorate turned to opposition parties to bring about a change.
More than three weeks on, Turkey’s newly elected politicians have not even begun to display an honest intent to act and to negoatiate in good faith.
Instead of exploring ways to create an alternative to a government that they have blamed for taking the country to the brink, the leaders of the opposition have been engaged in a war of words against each other.
They have failed to start a constructive dialogue. They could not formulate a democratic approach in order to deal with massive problems facing the country.
Their first serious challenge was to agree on a new speaker for the Parliament. Having complained about an AKP dominated, ineffective parliament for years, the least they could do was to come to a compromise on an opposition candidate for the post of the speaker. They did not manage to rise even to this basic challenge.
By declaring that his group would refuse to vote in the same bloc as the Kurdish affliated People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has presented the Justice and Development Party an easy victory. İsmet Yılmaz, the AKP candidate and incumbent defence minister was duly elected as the new speaker.
To be fair, Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) has made it clear that his party was ready to come together with the Nationalist Movement Party for the sake of resolving country’s problems. Using extremely unparliamentary language, Mr Bahceli responded by saying that he considered the HDP’s presence in the parliament as null and void. Bahceli also snubbed the leader of the main opposition Kemal Kilicdaroglu. He rejected Mr Kilicdaroglu’s offer of giving him the prime minister’s seat in a possible three-party coalition as another “plot” against his party.
We may yet see an AKP-MHP coalition in the coming days but it will not be the kind to bring a consensus that Turkey desperately needs.
Once again, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his vision have scored a major political victory. Once again, his secret weapon has turned out to be his staggeringly inept adversaries.
This post is also available in: Turkish