The Turkish original of this article was published as Büyüyemeyenler on 8th November 2015.
The chairman of the party underlined it in his post-election balcony talk, and the party spokesman also emphasized it in his press conference… “We have learned our lesson,” the AKP said. Not only about the June but also about their extraordinary success in the November elections, they expressed the same conviction. “We are a party that learns,” they said, and their message to society at large was: “Our eyes and ears are with you.” Over the same days and hours, the opposition parties, too, came out with various statements to present their explanations to the public. They held the government responsible for their lack of success.
There is something fundamentally wrong about this. Just think: a party that has got fifty percent of the votes self-critically admits to “having made mistakes,” while those that have suffered an overwhelming defeat are still looking for external excuses to blame. This by itself is enough to demonstrate that the AKP is the only political movement in this country that deserves to be in power, and if at all possible not to share that power.
In pedagogics, a very basic educational principle is to get the child to be able to see himself or herself objectively from a certain early age onward. If an undesirable situation has arisen, s/he is guided and advised not to reject life, to enter into dialogue with others, and to come to understand or persuade them. As the child goes about this, s/he also begins to understand how others are influenced by him/her, and to assess what his/her actions mean as if from the outside. This is what “growing up” in the sense of becoming mature is all about.
If we were to carry this principle over into Turkish politics, the first thing we would have to say is that our present opposition parties have yet to be able to outgrow their “childhood.” They are behaving as if politics were a game that must provide them with the toys of their choice. The CHP and the MHP are saddled with a mental regency that dates back to the founding of the Republic. It is as if a physical and spiritual force sitting “above” them decides how politics is to be “played” and “bestows” the requisite toys on them. For the CHP, the physical force in question has the military and juridical bureaucracy while the spiritual element has been provided by Mustafa Kemal and Kemalism. The MHP has looked to the “deep state” for the physical force and to a Turkish nationalism fed by Turanism for its spirituality. For the HDP the same functions are fulfilled (physically) by the PKK and (spiritually) by leftist ideology.
All three opposition parties are very far from assuming their own force of character; indeed, they don’t even have the courage to start looking for it. They are falling quite short of the internal energy and self-confidence to be able to say, in the aftermath of an unsuccessful election, that they “have committed some mistakes,” that “they will take responsibility for it,” and that “they will try not to do it again.” It is difficult to regard all this as being blown this or that way, feeling helpless, or looking for a humanly understandable flight from reality in the face of an unexpected defeat. For they were of the same mind before the outcome. In other words, while they more or less knew what was coming, instead of trying to correct themselves they tried to create the grounds for blaming others.
The chairman of the CHP complained that society did not seem to show proper appreciation for his party, though it was certain that it would be doing the right things. The chairman of the MHP thought that constantly striking out at “the palace” would add up to a respectable political stance for his party. As for the chairman of the HDP, who was tailing after Leninist left-politics, he took refuge in opportunism. Right down to the last day of the campaign, he kept arguing that as the war had been launched by the AKP, the outcome was going to be in their favor. Then when he lost, he reverted to claiming that the war had benefited the government. He did not even appear on television so as to be able to later claim that they had been discriminated against by the media.