The results of the European Parliament elections have been announced. Although media organs released the results with headlines expressing shock and surprise, the real situation does not need to be regarded as either shocking or surprising.
The gradually increasing radical right tendencies across Europe have been considered a specter over the continent for a long time. The Western equation of "economic welfare" and "sterile and homogenous middle class" started to be worn down especially after the Cold War period. Seemingly, the workforce supply created by intense economically-motivated migrations and cultural heterogeneity challenged the concept of "European identity." Europe also has faced the problems of an increase in sub-contracted work, unemployment and the income gap since stocks and investments were shifted outside Europe with the effect of globalization. These problems consequently have created future anxiety and self-confidence problems. Also, the gradual expansion of Europe leaves one to feel they are losing control.
Issues such as "the impairment of identity," "losing control," "future anxiety," and "self-confidence problems" are closely related to the rise of right or radical right movements. Consequently, the success of the radical right in the European Parliament elections is not a coincidence.
However, these parameters are not only valid for right or radical right groups. Especially when expansion and the Turkey issue are concerned, it can be observed that the conflicts between the radical right, radical left, Greens and liberal groups seem to have disappeared over the last few years. Juncker and Schulz can present a picture of consensus on the matter of Turkey. But paradoxically, the same developments are also being experienced in Turkey.
Yesterday was the 54th anniversary of the 1960 military coup. The social class that became dominant under the constitution following this coup is now losing its power with the democratization movements of the last decade. They are losing their power over institutions. The army cannot attempt another coup. The judiciary does not file closure cases for a political party. And the coup attempts of the judiciary cannot succeed anymore.
They are losing their privileges and being equal to other citizens, which is a fact they cannot face. This loss of power evokes the feelings of losing control, future anxiety and self-confidence problems among them. This is where the paradox can be clearly seen. While the same problems lead to the rise of the radical right in Europe, they lead to the radicalization of this minority group in Turkey, which defines itself as "leftist" and "social democratic," is alien to its own community and only favors lifestyle liberalism.
At this point, it becomes unavoidable to agree with the remarks of İdris Küçükömer, who says, "In Turkey, the right is actually left, and the left is actually right." The parameters producing the radical right always produce radical right and the radicalized class in current Turkey is actually "right" at its core even though it uses left, liberal or green discourse, depending on the situation. More interestingly, both right and left groups in the West are being rightists when Turkey is the subject matter and they are trying to interpret and assess Turkey through this radical social class. Maybe these manners serve their purposes. For this reason, the West has been blocking the opening of negotiation titles that could have led to positive developments in Turkey's democratization over the last four years.
If the European liberals and democrats are to take lessons from the European Parliament elections, perhaps the first lesson should be on Turkey. In this case, both blocking negotiations and evaluating Turkey through anti-democratic and anti-liberal circles need to be revised.
About the author
Osman Can is a Law Professor and Reporting Judge at the Turkish Constitutional Court. He holds a PhD from the University of Cologne, Germany.