(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 10, 2011
THE overwhelming victory of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the June 12 elections was on expected lines. The AK Party this time got more than 50 per cent of the votes cast but this could only translate into 326 seats in parliament. This is short of the two-thirds majority needed to make major policy and constitutional changes that the AK Party had promised in its election manifesto. Now, the AK Party will need the help of the parties sitting in the opposition to fulfil the wide ranging promises made on the campaign trail. The AK Party would now be forced to cut deals with the Centre Left Republican Peoples Party (CHP), the main opposition grouping. The CHP got three million more votes this time. Its vote share rose from 21 per cent to 26 per cent.
CHP’s new leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, managed to change the image of the party. Under the previous leader, the party was seen as a mouthpiece of the armed forces and the elite. Under the new leadership it has rebranded itself as a social democratic party. It was the only party which could increase its representation in parliament. The extreme right wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) managed to poll above the 10 per cent cut off point needed to have a presence in parliament despite the sex scandals plaguing its top leadership. The AK Party was hoping that the MHP vote share would go below the 10 per cent threshold. If that wish had materialised, the AK Party would have been able to get its two-thirds majority in parliament, as most of the seats allotted to the MHP in the parliament would have ended up in its kitty.
the same, the outcome is a landmark event for
Erdogan’s third term has the potential to be an historic one if he manages to fulfil his promise of rewriting the 1982 Turkish constitution and find a lasting solution to the long running Kurdish problem. The current Turkish constitution was written after 1980 following a military coup and has an authoritarian imprint. Even the main opposition party, the staunchly secular Peoples Republican Party, has accepted that the 1980 constitution is outdated.
The Turkish state has expended a lot of its energy and resources in its dealings with the Kurdish problem. At the beginning of Erdogan’s second term in office, both sides seemed to be willing to settle their problems amicably, with the State recognising the Kurdish identity and the Kurds reciprocating by giving up their secessionist demands. But progress towards a comprehensive settlement has been stalled due to a variety of factors. Erdogan had taken the first steps to reach out to the sizeable Kurdish minority which had been alienated during the decades of authoritarian rule. It was the government led by Erdogan which took the initiative to officially recognise the Kurdish language and allow its use on television programs and radio shows. In the last elections, because of these policies, the AK Party had done quite well in the Kurdish dominated north eastern part of the country.
But this time around, the Kurdish nationalists opposed to the AK have swept the region. The Kurds were angry at the failure of the government to devolve power and release all political prisoners. The government has refused to lift the ban on the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) that has spearheaded their struggle. Its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, is serving a life term in a high security prison. The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) which won 35 crucial seats in parliament in the June elections, wants the government to allow the use of the Kurdish language in the administrative and educational institutions in the northeast of the country. The BDP has demanded the speedy release of political prisoners and an end to the military operations against the PKK. The Kurdish conflict so far has resulted in the deaths of more than 40,000 civilians and polarised the nation. The PKK is threatening a resumption of hostilities unless the government starts talking formally with them at the earliest. Erdogan is unlikely to make many more concessions to the Kurds. He has said on several occasions that he considers the issue solved.
meanwhile, continues to stride like a colossus on the Turkish political
He has won more votes in this election than he did four years ago. He
around 47 per cent of the votes in 2007. His personal popularity at
juncture seems to be rivalling that of the legendary founder of modern
his second term, aided by a booming economy, Erdogan eased into the
role of a
world statesman. For the first time, a Turkish leader, dared to take a
that differed from that of Washington and the West. The Turkish prime
had shown that he was capable of taking decisions that were unpalatable
West during his first term in office itself, when he was on a slippery
political footing. Soon after coming to power, he saw to it that the
Erdogan, relations with
all of a sudden,
had initially tried to mediate a truce in