AKP: from victim to oppressor

Here is my comment on the metamorphosis of the AKP:

“Turkey is currently an authoritarian regime,” warned a respected political scientist from Sabancı University yesterday. According to Professor Ersin Kalaycıoğlu:

“The issue is whether or not we will be able to move toward democracy again. We are a country that has been in the process of democratization — and one that has failed to consolidate its democracy — for the last 70 years.”

Known for his caution to not fall into the trap of exaggeration, Kalaycıoğlu’s diagnosis is grave. He went on:

“Can a president or a prime minister who may have committed a crime rule the country in an administration that is viewed as a legitimate government? There is a clear answer to this in political science: no. In a democratic state, this investigation should be properly carried out by an independent and impartial judiciary. You may postpone this, but you cannot eliminate it. Eliminating it means that Turkey is not governed by a legitimate government.”

I’d certainly agree with Kalaycıoğlu on the legitimacy of the government, and also that one cannot eliminate accusations, hoping that they will go away forever. Let us take it for granted, though, that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leadership will do its utmost to make them disappear or be forgotten.

After all, Turkey is a country where an “I can get away with anything if I am privileged and as long as the instruments of power are on my side” culture is part of the typical political scheme.

Yet, I am not sure whether or not Turkey has already shifted to an authoritarian regime. Needless to say, with the enormous steps taken since Dec. 17 and with the recent National Intelligence Organization (MİT) bill, we are heading there in full gear, but more is still needed to seal the deal.

Instead, I would see the period between the March 30 elections and the presidential election in August as one where a hardcore — and perhaps final — battle will have to take place. If all goes as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hopes it will, we may end up with a political model that concentrates full executive power in a person who also leads a dominant party and controls most of the three no-longer-separate branches as well as the fourth estate — the media. This is the ideal world for a politician whose hunger knows no bounds.

But, on the other hand, this is Turkey. The legacy of the late President Turgut Özal and the good deeds of the early AKP have produced a different society in which any attempt at oppression will backfire and be costly.

This is the real reason why the Constitutional Court, given even greater independence in the historic 2010 referendum, has entered onto the existential battlefield. Taking the great risk of being bashed by Erdoğan government flunkies, Haşim Kılıç, the chief judge, presented an excellent analysis of “Turkey 2014” that was well equipped to be “equal” in bluntness and match the vitriolic, vindictive rhetoric employed by Erdoğan ever since the 2011 elections.

One extremely important point in his speech was this:

“Courageous steps were taken to remove the pro-tutelage mindset, with the constitutional amendment [of 2010]. [But] a big gap emerged after the pro-tutelage powers were rooted out. This gap was supposed to be filled by actions that reflect fair values and that embrace all segments of society, but we have failed to do this.”

Kılıç further said that Turkey is now in the grip of a new tutelage, namely the one designed, enforced and implemented by Prime Minister Erdoğan. By this, he means political and social engineering based on a new form of privilege and an aggressive demolition of the rule of law.

His remarks show how important the referendum in September 2010 was, and what a critical watershed moment it was.

Kılıç’s remarks showed how the AKP soon abandoned its role as “opposing those in power in order to transform the country,” and instead started to transform itself into the new owner of the half-reformed state, using the tools available to entrench its unaccountable and arbitrary rule.

This is the story of the metamorphosis of the victim into the oppressor.


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