Turkey needs a broader consensus

Published 23.08.2016 23:16

Turkey needs a very large effective national consensus to overcome this difficult period

The July 15 coup attempt is sadly not a very exceptional moment in Turkey's political history. It has been seen as a very unexpected and exceptional event, mainly because no one really thought a coup d'état was feasible in the year 2016, while a parliamentarian democratic regime functioned and delivered.The awakening has been terrible. I cannot find a better word to describe the feeling reigning among the public. In a matter of hours, public administration buildings, police stations, policemen, civilians were targeted. Close to 300 people died, Turkish Parliament, the highest reference of the Republic, was bombed by the insurgents. The insurgency came from nowhere, which deepened even further the feeling of insecurity and bewilderment among the population.

Almost no ally among the EU countries having really given a warm message of solidarity following the coup attempt further deepens this apprehension. Conspiracy theories, depicting as "imperialist" just any other country are flourishing. The main target remains the U.S., our essential ally; other European Union leading countries follow. To read and hear the majority of editorialists and analysts, we are surrounded by an evil coalition of countries and we shall stand against them as one single, united entity. A simple xenophobic attitude is presented as "anti-imperialistic."

This mood does not bode well for the future. Turkey effectively needs a very large national consensus to overcome this difficult period. Opposition parties support the government, for the first time since the year 2003, when Deniz Baykal, then leader of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), helped lift the ban that prevented Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from being a member of Parliament. This is a very important dynamic. However, two issues are to be dealt with immediately.

First, it is not possible that the Gülen gang has been organized within the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), judiciary, security forces and the National Ministry of Education without having had an organizational structure within the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) itself. It is more than likely that a purge within the party is going to take place, however, this might probably considerably tarnish the image of the latter. So it is likely that such purge will come later during the criminal investigations. But anyhow, it will not be possible, as President Erdoğan said himself, to act as if nothing has happened. So a very good idea would be to institutionalize the cooperation between the ruling AK Party and the opposition forces, within a given time period. This could perfectly well take the form of a national union government, with a very clear task to achieve, the instauration of a viable, pluralistic, decentralized, transparent parliamentary democracy. Nothing less will help Turkey to overcome this difficult period.

Second, Turkey's opposition is not made up of the CHP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alone. The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), as I had the opportunity to underline in my previous columns, remains a very important actor in Turkish democracy. It has to sharply distance itself from the PKK, which it does somehow clumsily and belatedly. Its task is not very easy, because eliminating those within the HDP that support the PKK supporting will not be any easier than to get eliminate the Gülenists within the state administration. But it has to be done. At all costs... No society, no country can sustain indefinitely a period where huge casualties are being suffered almost monthly because of the criminal deeds of the PKK, DAESH or other terror organizations. The largest popular front of those who believe in democracy, in the inalienable right to live for everyone, remains the only defense line against such a criminal and inhumane wave of attacks.

İsmet İnönü, the second president of Republic of Turkey its founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's right arm, played a very important role after the coup d'état back in 1960. He has first accepted to back down after the elections his party lost in 1950, becoming the leader of the opposition. His stance against the coup d'état in 1960 is still very much disputed, but what he has done afterward requires our respect. He has been opposing all attempts to "coup remakes," to the peril of his life. He has been leading three different coalition governments, between 1961 and 1964, not least with the Justice Party (AP), the direct continuation of the Democrat Party (DP), overthrown by the military junta. İnönü's presence as the head of the government has been severely criticized by the left wing of his own party, by the conservative actors within the AP, he lost gradually the votes of his followers, going from the first place in the 1961 elections to a distant second place in 1965 and 1969. He ultimately lost the presidency of the CHP of which he was among the founders. But his action is understood and his statesman stance appreciated to its correct level only now.

Such politically unselfish stance is very much needed now. It might look problematic to different political movements presently, but only this way can Turkey give a very different image abroad and can find ways to establish a sustainable modus vivendi at home. In an era of blind, suicidal terror and conflict, Turkish society deserves such mature attitude on the part of its political class.

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