'Universes' to compete rather than candidates in presidential elections

Published 02.07.2014 00:25
Updated 02.07.2014 00:52

Parliamentary parties have announced their candidates for the presidential elections in August. The candidates will soon be formalized and the propaganda process will start. Though it seems that there is public discourse over the candidates, we are likely to see a competition between different viewpoints and political philosophies. It is not unknown what kind of a philosophy the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) candidate would represent, so we already know what kind of a presidency we will come up with if the AK Party candidate is elected. A similar evaluation can also be applied to the candidate suggested by the nationalist Kurdish political movement.

Both parties are victims of the Kemalist political elites that have been dominant for the nearly 100 years. So, naturally they represent a great majority of Turkey. The perception regarding the discussions of "old and new Turkey" is evident in their political philosophies. However, it is not possible to say the same for the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the "joint" presidential candidate of these two parties, initiated its candidacy process by paying a visit to the Anıtkabir – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's monumental tomb. Though Mustafa Kemal is an esteemed hero of Turkey's Independence War, his position in democratic politics isn't quite so favorable. İhsanoğlu also laid a wreath on the mausoleum of the second president İsmet İnönü, who is also not favored by the overwhelming majority of society. This act only served to add to the negativity, legitimizing the last 100 years of rule. Also, the words he wrote in the Anıtkabir memorial notebook verify this, too. İhsanoğlu wrote, "The Republic of Turkey lies on the bases of universal values of law, independent executive, legislative and judicial powers, and human rights and liberties." It would not pose any problem as long as he narrated the historical grounds of the Republic of Turkey as such to the natives of a small island state in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But unfortunately, Turkey's citizens have not inhabited a small Pacific Island for the last 100 years. They have a collective memory and a common history.

The Republic of Turkey was declared after the abolishment of the most (maybe the only) democratic Parliament in Turkey's history and the only constitution based on a social contract. Its replacement, the 1924 Constitution, was not written on the grounds of universal values of law.

Contrarily, during the period between 1924 and 1950, the universal values of law were violated and disregarded; and genocide, assimilation and denial were adopted and implemented as a state policy. By 1950, a republic "having independent executive, legislative and judicial powers," had never existed. Conversely, a single party dictatorship based on the synchronic act of all the powers was built. Let alone the independence, the judicial power was organized as "the uniformed forces," dependent on the Kemalist ideology. Also, a republic based on human rights and liberties had never existed. The tragedies experienced under the guise of human rights and laws between 1925 and 1950 left deep scars on the society's collective memory, scars that have not healed and may never do so. Hence, using such an expression means legitimizing the implementations of that period. It is clear that the vast majority of Turkey will regard this act as disrespect. The development and democratization level Turkey has reached today is an outcome of the fight against the political philosophy, institutions and practices of that period. The CHP and MHP could ignore the hundred years of darkness brought on by themselves and could build a parallel universe for them. This psychology is understandable.

However, İhsanoğlu's acts conforming to these parties require an explanation, especially as he is also from a background victimized by those actors. We will witness a competition between two different universes: the real universe and a parallel universe. This competition will also summarize the present ontological distinctions in Turkish politics.

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