Monday, November 14, 2011

Revisiting the Turkish Politics after the June 2011 Elections

Istanbul Şehir University
Insight Turkey 13, 4 (2011)


Conclusion: Summer 2011 as a Point of No Return to Status Quo Ante

In its first two terms in office, the AK Party government felt the pressure of a number of socio-political cracks in the country, the republican dogmas of the secular elite, the interventionist mentality of the military, the suspicions of intellectuals, the zigzagging support for the government in the business, and the increasingly vocal renunciations on its reformist political agenda. In the still-developing post-election era, there is a more heightened public awareness, critique and anticipation regarding the fundamental issues waiting to be resolved, not in the ways they were managed ad hoc in the past but in sync with emerging new realities. This fact alone points to a need for all actors, including the opposition forces in the country, to adopt a fresh perspective in assessing and restructuring the major fault lines in Turkey. The impending sense of unfinished business on the part of the AK Party government also gives hope that in the new agenda for change the reform priority of the next four years will not be politics-as-usual.

The opposition is also at a crossroads: to only make leadership changes (like the CHP) while everything else stays the same does not play in the streets. In fact, together with the trigger-happy instigators of the conflict that keeps flaring up in the southeast even when there is a truce, superficial changes and rhetoric work the other way in terms of creating urgency and intensity for wishing to see “something radically different” in place of familiar faces, repetitive rhetoric, business-as-usual attitudes and clichéd ideas. New realizations, aspirations, and trends in the country also stem from Turkey’s new found ambition to project Turkish power across its borders for regional stability and as a credible example of democracy for Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Libya. To be congruent with that image, the need for a political shake-up that would transform societal and political realities and the remnants of the old order seems to be more intense and urgent.

Those opposition actors which collude with old power centers, be they leftwing, right-wing, secular, or Turkish/Kurdish nationalists, stand in sharp contrast to the vitality, urgency and inventiveness of the new popular critique of the past. They also impose limitations on the transformative role the AK Party can play in the next four years. The actors of the ancien regime are seriously in need of a shake-up to question their heritage, intellectual preparedness and responsibility in making a New Deal.

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