The Ankara-based Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) organized a panel on Thursday titled "The Transition of Politics and Transformation of System in Turkey" during which Galip Dalay, a research director at Istanbul-based al-Sharq Forum, underlined that the lack of opposition in Turkish politics has allowed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to maintain its dominant position for more than 13 years.
The panel began with a presentation on Turkish political history by Ali Akarca, a professor in the Department of Economy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and continued with SETA researcher Serdar Gülener, who stressed the necessity of a new constitution to prevent the re-occurrence of past political crises and coups in Turkish history. Turkish politics has never before experienced a one-party dominated system due to military coups and interventions, and the panel underscored the rare case in world politics of a political party winning four elections back-to-back while maintaining a dominant party position.
Akarca provided details as to the cause and effect of the coups on Turkish politics. He said: "The coups in Turkey established the grounds for coalition governments through negative sociological and economical affects." He touched on the AK party's success as a single ruling party, and said that the cycle of political crises in Turkey's political history may have now ended.
Dalay began by discussing the concept of the dominant party, saying that the common trait displayed by such parties is answering the accumulated energy of society following coup eras. Explaining that the AK party rose following a frustrated period in Turkish politics, Dalay said that the AK Party has maintained its dominant position due to the lack of an opposition in Turkish politics. In contrast, Dalay added: "The CHP [Republican Peoples Party] is discomfited by the fact that it is a [cause for the] discussion of secularism rather than the main actor within the system that it created."
All participants drew attention to the need of a new system of governance as well as a new constitution. SETA's Gülener said that a constitution is a political document and that the 1982 Constitution has turned the Turkish political arena into an environment prone to violence by making use of the presidency, military and judiciary. Emphasizing that there is great need for a new constitution, Gülener said: "If the constitutional system's potential of using violence is not transformed then the incidents that happened in the past could be repeated."