Those who follow Turkey closely wait with interest to see what politics or mentality will leave its stamp on the second century of the Turkish Republic. There are many elements to cause apprehension in this waiting.
Widespread dissatisfaction with the economic crisis, reflected in the streets in the slogan, “We can’t make ends meet”, and the extremity of the crisis of mismanagement of the political administration bring still more disturbing scenes to mind.
This could be the one theft that those who use repeated military coups to try and steal the Turkish collective memory and empty it out are unable to succeed in.
First and foremost, that memory says this:
The political administration will do anything to remain in control.
Soldiers who are nowhere to be seen can suddenly appear on the scene.
By the use of various provocations the administration can make the much-discussed and never-denied paramilitary structures who went out on the streets in the 15 July attempted coup and were later organised into a “special” force, slaughter the hopes of the masses awaiting change.
Or they may prefer to keep control by discipline, using the effective tyranny created to remove the conditions for an election and suspend all rights and freedoms, thus creating a climate of fear across the whole community.
All of this is sometimes open, but most of the time it is one of the things people talk about among themselves as possibilities.
Naturally these possibilities are no surprise to those who have been confronted with them time after time…
Turkey’s community is currently caught between two poles.
It is possible to read the hopelessness of millions forced into a choice between two alliances from their very faces. By now the feeling of, “whatever is going to happen, let it just happen”, covers everybody.
The first of these alliances is the bloc led by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which is called the “Alliance of the People”, and the other is the “Alliance of the Nation”, led by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Good (İYİ) Party, and including four other parties.
Millions are trapped between these two alliances.
Although both alliances have ideological similarities, the “Alliance of the Nation” makes the claim that it is an alternative to the status quo. It is not wrong to say of those turning their faces towards this alliance that their approach is that of “the lesser of two evils”.
However, it is the common interpretation of any reasonable person that “there is another possibility” apart from that of the system itself, which has risen up on neoliberal politics, winning either way in the struggle for power.
This is a “possibility” that will define who will win and who will not win any election, and the existence of this “possibility” is highly unnerving for the parties, for both these alliances.
The name of this possibility is HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party).
It is unnerving for the alliances because of the political literacy of the HDP’s voters and the trust they have in the will of the party which represents them.
The HDP, which has the support of some seven million voters, is not only skirting around the two alliances, it is also demonstrating to them that Kurdish politics is not an easy mouthful to swallow, by overturning the balances in every election.
It shook the administration in the elections of 7 June 2015. Although the AKP won the election as the first party, it was brought to a position where it was unable to form a government on its own. The HDP entered the assembly as the third biggest party and tore a proverbial gaping hole in the chauvinistic and nationalistic ideology of the state. The state, which was to pay the price for this and wanted to close up the hole that had opened up, was to start a great political slaughter, but the HDP’s voters were determined to stand up for their party.
In the general elections held just four years (31 March 2019) later, so not long after, the HDP was to take the stage once more and give a firm response to the administration’s attempts at political slaughter, ensuring that the administration lost every one of the big city municipalities. Erdoğan, who had said, “Whosoever loses Istanbul loses Turkey”, lost Istanbul.
The administration has not recovered from that day to this.
Turkey is now faced with an early election.
The HDP is once more in the position of being the key party. Both alliances are making moves towards the HDP. The HDP and its voters will take the stage again.
We can say that the Kurds are aiming to enter the second century of the Turkish Republic this time playing a defining role.
There is an ironic aspect to this. Immediately after its foundation, the Turkish Republic defined the doctrine of “one nation” with its policies of assimilation and denial, and this policy formed the root of the massive problems it has passed down to today.
Now with their broadest of all alliance, their Alliance of Democracy, which they are calling the Third Way, the Kurds are not only players in the era of a new foundation but at the same time they are proponents of a democratic republic with an ideas-based structure.
They exist as a choice for the millions who are calling for a democratic republic, who do not want to be caught between the Alliances of the People and the Nation.
It is an incontrovertible fact that they represent a hope for those who want to live in freedom and equality in a democratic republic, and a “threat” to those who frequently take on the character of the system’s despot, who want to control the whole population by forever wielding a stick.
And for just this reason, Turkey is at an important crossroads.
The choice it will make will determine the fate both of the people of Turkey and of all the countries around it.