23 September 2019 11:28

What is the meaning of Erdoğan’s “new political style” as the AKP boils?

Inescapably under “single-party government,” the turmoil within the AKP is finding reflection within the government.

Photograph: Volkan Furuncu/AA

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İhsan Çaralan

The AKP is bubbling away! And from the very top to sub-provincial organizations.

On the one hand, the turmoil engendered within the AKP by Gül-Babacan’s and Davutoğlu’s new party initiatives, and, on the other, the unconcealable uptrend in resignations from the party against a background in which it is unclear who is pro-Gül-Babacan, who is pro-Davutoğlu and who is pro-Erdoğan. There is by now no hiding the truth that this foggy weather resulting from decay and degeneration has permeated the party from top to bottom.

Moreover, the Pelikan group moving into the assault against Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül, which will quite obviously create fresh problems in the party and government, and the mutual accusations of FETOism reaching a crescendo. These developments are leading to increased polemics in the partisan media, even ending in resignations. With the in-party turbulence spreading into the government, it is advancing to a stage that is embroiling Erdoğan, too.

DOES ERDOĞAN WISH TO NORMALIZE POLITICS OR IS HE REFINING THE GOAL?

Inescapably under “single-party government,” the turmoil within the AKP is finding reflection within the government.

Abdulkadir Selvi, one of the closest columnists to the AKP, described the lie of the land in his Hürriyet column the day before yesterday.

Overall, what Selvi had to say based on information gleaned from the “inside” can be summarized as, “No imminent change to the government is being contemplated, but the President’s style of engaging in politics is changing.”

Selvi reads Erdoğan’s meeting at the Palace with the metropolitan mayors including the CHP mayors, his meeting with SP General Chair Karamollaoğlu and his endeavours to smooth things over with Meral Akşener as being moves taken to “make peace with certain former AKP bigwigs.” And he implies that this is his new style of engaging in politics.

So, can we say that, as Selvi hopes, these endeavours are steps taken to reduce the political tension in the country and normalize the political climate?

Looking at events from a broader perspective, not the AKP’s narrow perspective, we can construe the aim of Erdoğan’s initiative to be an expansion of his own entourage and “refining of the goal,” rather than “normalization.” For these steps by Erdoğan are indicative of a political style that aims to produce more destructive consequences for the other side.

THE AKP’S PLAN CONCERNING ITS PARTISANS AND OWN GOALS

A glance at Erdoğan’s initiatives (the ones Selvi speaks of) suggests the circles he wishes to draw to his side with his new political style are: the old “heavy cannons” who are uncomfortable with current goings-on in the AKP and at having been excluded, conservative and chauvinistic parties like the SP and Good Party and the mayors(*) in the CHP who are caught between the central government on the one side and the AKP-MHP majority in municipal assemblies on the other.

With the President thus aiming to bolster his own side with new forces, he also indicates the forces he is gunning for.

From these indications, the prime target is the HDP. Erdoğan wishes to drive the HDP out of the legal political arena and he has taken this wish to the stage of even holding the HDP responsible for the PKK’s actions.

Another party in the firing line is the CHP. He wishes to divide and at least isolate the CHP (also using the fear internal to it), to a large extent annihilating its rapprochement with the HDP.

The third target is progressive democratic circles, intellectuals, democrats, progressive scientific and artistic circles and struggle-oriented trade unions and labour and professional organizations

As to the fourth target, this is the parties Davutoğlu and Babacan are going to form. Erdoğan’s propaganda portrays these two prospective parties as an initiative of the CHP and HDP, or even a set-up desired by terrorist organisations. He thus wishes to prevent slippage from the base by stamping on the turmoil within his own party.

WE ARE EMBARKING ON A PERIOD WITH A FURTHER HARSHENED POLITICAL ARENA

Even if Selvi does not explicitly pose the issue in such terms, if one of the parties to a political struggle redefines its style, this means it is redefining the forces opposing it from its own standpoint.

However, the above picture is a picture created by Erdoğan and the extent to which it conforms to the realities of life merits considerable debate.

Hence, the tabling and attaining by Erdoğan of his goals by means of what Selvi calls the “new political style” is directly dependent on economic policies as well as the realities of Turkey and the government’s domestic and foreign policy which constitute an aspect of these realities. Looking at the issue from this perspective, attaining the tabled goals is a tall order as far as the AKP goes. When particular consideration is given to the political awareness the popular masses clearly displayed and the stamp it cast on national politics in the local election, Erdoğan cannot be expected to attain his goals.

But we can say as of now that the AKP and Erdoğan’s “new political style” (that Selvi has pointed to) shows that the struggle in the political arena alone will harshen further. For sure, the AKP will try to use every opportunity at its disposal to compel the forces it wishes to attract to its side and to stage operations internal to them, as well as the forces it has set its sights on. And this shows that the upcoming period will be a period that further harshens the political arena, rather than “normalizes” it.

(*) Here, if the appearance of the AKP standing in proximity to the CHP metropolitan mayors in conjunction with the “new-style politics” seems “confusing,” this initiative is a “public relations initiative” and a message is also given through this initiative to the CHP mayors that will comfort those who do homage to the Palace.

(Translated by Tim DRAYTON)