Fair justice

AKP’nin toplumsal ve siyasi zemini normalleştirme, hukuki ve kurumsal yapıyı demokratikleştirme, ekonomiden eğitime rasyonel ve adil bir hizmet yönetimini sağlama doğrultusundan sapma yaşaması durumunda cezanın kesilebileceğini anlıyoruz.

Halil Berktay

The Turkish original of this article was published as Hak yerini buldu on 2nd November 2015.

[2 November 2015] Because I was going abroad, 24TV’s last “Açık Görüş” [Open Debate] program before the elections was broadcast a day early, i.e. not on Thursday but Wednesday the 28th, when Zeynep Türkoğlu and I went over the last public opinion surveys. Surely not my piece of cake, though I did go through the motions of repeating what everyone knew, more or less, or at least what they pretended to know. I said that there seemed to be a  certain increase, however small, in the AKP and CHP vote, while the HDP and MHP were registering a corresponding decline. About the CHP, I was of two minds. One part of me noted how blandly amorphous it was; further, that it might well try to hang on to its traditional role of an “Ataturkist régime commissar” in the guise of “restorationism.” Nevertheless, another part could not refrain from routinely gifting it with 27 percent on account if its “constructive” stand, so-called. I did state that the electorate would be penalizing the MHP (for its lazy lying in wait for the statist-nationalist vote) and the HDP (for defending and apologizing for the PKK’s reversion to armed struggle).  But I was able to take the former down not to 12 but only to 14 percent, and the latter down not to 10-something but only 12-something percent. Meanwhile, like most everybody else it was really on the AKP that I fell rather short, not daring to bring myself to pronounce anything over 43-44 percent.


During the holiday I was out of the country, as I’ve already said. In my Athens hotel on the evening of 31st October, I kept zapping from one news channel to another. All of them kept mouthing more or less the same clichés about how these elections held in a “violent” environment could only mean more “instability” for Turkey. Stocky middle-aged Greek pundits and politicians kept pontificating knowingly from one screen to the next about how “Erdoğan’s policies” had  made a mess of everything, so that the AKP was now heading for disaster.


Well now, that is not how things have turned out, is it? This morning as we stop to look back, it is becoming ever more clear that such commentaries, sometimes going so far as to predict “splits  within the AKP, civil war, and even a NATO intervention,” belong more (in Serbestiyet writer Hasan Bozkurt’s words) with “request-notes dropped in a wishing box” than serious analyses.     


For after cautioning the AKP on the first round, the electorate has now turned out to deliver a most rigorous lesson to the entire anti-AKP “overthrowist” front. The AKP had initially lost around 8 percentile points, all of which it has now regained. On 7th June, in the midst of all the anti-AKP cries of victory, it was actually an abyss that opened before the country. First, in the name of a “restoration,” it was a rather fantastical notion of a “60 percent bloc” that was floated, for the sake of which even the HDP and the MHP were asked to come together. At a second step, taken singly and as a group, all opposition parties, whether absolutely and from the outset, or gradually over time, rejected the possibility of  forming or joining a coalition government with the AKP. This was a time when talk began of the AK Party heading for final collapse. It was also around this time that the PKK launched its “new people’s revolutionary war.” It went on to murder a few hundred people from among civilians as well as the security forces. But even this was presented as a “war launched by Erdoğan in order to recapture his absolute majority.” In various places where the HDP had attained its highest votes, there began a series of “self-rulle” or “self-government” proclamations based on the “police force” of the YDG-H [Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement, the PKK’s urban guerrilla force]. In parallel, an external siege effort also reached its peak. Some of the most serious papers in the West either sent special correspondents or relied on their local (all leftist) reporters to propagate idealized pictures of such “self-governments” and their urban guerrilla auxiliaries, praising the “just anger,” the determination and the level of organization of the PKK youth to the sky. Their preparations were presented as impassable and invincible; the “new life” that was supposed to have begun beyond the ditches and trenches was eulogized as a people’s paradise. Some Turkish leftists (including a few academics) contributed articles to Özgür Gündem [generally recognized as the legal mouthpiece of the PKK’s Kandil leadership] in anachronistic defense of “just violence.” At some point, the police including special forces units started blockading and entering such “self-rule” areas (though, it must be said at this point, with minimal army support). In short, while Kurdish academic Abdullah Kıran, another Serbestiyet columnist, noted that this was like an open challenge seeking to provoke visible massacres, the government simply refused to pick up the gantlet. To that end, not disproportionate but just barely adequate force appears to have been utilized. Clashes did take place, but no massacres. All such precautions notwithstanding, Demirtaş and his team kept talking about attacks using “tanks and artillery” that resulted in “massacres” (and are doing so even today, in the aftermath of their electoral defeat, but without any evidence).  Then, on top of Diyarbakır and Suruç, there came the Ankara bombings, whereby Demirtaş further escalated his vitriolic attacks on the government, calling the AKP “murderers, treacherous villains, everywhere covered with blood.” When, in an election speech, PM Davutoğlu reminded the Kurdish people that if the AKP went out, we might go back to the 1990s’ “white Taurus car” kidnappings and murders of leading Kurds by deep-state JİTEM paralegals, Demirtaş once more went overboard by accusing the AKP of carrying out the same kind of extrajudicial torture and assassinations today “using more deluxe automobile brands.” The more extravagant his string of falsehoods became the more eroded his credibility became (though he either did not see it or found it impossible to retreat). Yet another dimension saw the PKK and the HDP repeatedly vacillating between boycotting and contesting the elections. To prepare for this contingency, it was bruited about that “now Erdoğan is going to scuttle the elections altogether, or else they will take place but it won’t really be an election.” On leftist web sites there appeared a new flurry of attacks about “what do if he refuses to go nicely.” Messages about how “as you see Turkey has become ungovernable” came to be more frequently addressed to the international public. There emerged a few initial references to the possibility of a “failed state.” The first article to speak of  Turkey becoming “the next failed state in the Middle East” as a virtual state was published in Asia Times Online. Simultaneously, a hundred academics from inside Turkey signed a  public call asking German Chancellor Angela Merkel not to visit Ankara on the grounds that her coming would constitute an unjustifiable meddling in Turkey’s domestic politics by endorsing the AKP and President Erdoğan. Almost in the same breath, yet another international indictment was circulated, this time with nearly two hundred signatures mostly by prestigious international academics and intellectuals. This was a call for (i) setting up independent commissions under the UN to investigate “serious” claims to the effect that the state had a hand in the Ankara massacre; (ii) getting all third countries to review their diplomatic relations with Turkey; (iii) mobilizing global support for “the resistance of the peoples of Turkey” to “an authoritarian and illegitimate” régime (my italics), which was a rather transparent euphemism for the “new people’s revolutionary war” launched by the PKK; and (iv) bringing the 1st November elections, too, under international supervision since — it was intimated — there was reason to believe that could not possibly be free and honest. In brief, this propaganda barrage about a deep crisis, the absence of democracy, ungovernability, and the need for an outside intervention was carried out until the very last minute and taken to such extreme points.       


But so, what then happened? At what point are we inside all this cloud of disinformation, this piling up of contaminated knowledge and commentary? Democracy has functioned well. The elections have gone smoothly, virtually without any hitches. Participation was exceptionally high, reaching 86 percent. As of 11:30 on Monday morning, I can see no serious claims of fraud whatsoever. Over the past five months, a flexible and mobile section of the electorate appears to have lived and learned, through its own direct experience, that the AKP’s failure to form a government by itself may have drastic consequences for peace and stability, especially given that the opposition promises nothing but negativism and destruction. This is why virtually all the votes that the AKP lost on 7th June have returned, and not only from the MHP but also the HDP, from where it was repeatedly declared that they would never come back to the AKP (for example by survey expert Bekir Ağırdır). The MHP lost 40 and the HDP 21 seats in parliament while the AKP recaptured 59 of these 61 deputies to raise its total from 258 to 316. Percentage-wise and in overall numbers of MPs, it ended up where it was in 2011.  


All other considerations aside, in sheer ethical terms it has been a most satisfactory outcome. I hadn’t hoped as much, but justice has been done in the end. The rest, let’s tackle another time.