Raising the bar for normality

 

Etyen Mahçupyan

 

The Turkish original of this article was published as  Normalin çıtası  on 9th June 2015.

 

 

For Turkey, the last thirteen years were a historic opportunity that seemed to be divinely granted. A political movement coming from the periphery, and not just in terms of class but also of culture and ideology, was initially helped by luck to move to and occupy the center, and was later able to consolidate that position by virtue of its own positive efforts. In a historically very short time, we witnessed the pushing back of military tutelage, reforms within the bureaucracy, and the first rational administration of the economy for decades. From infrastructure to health, from urbanization to social rights, there was a major surge of development. With regard to the freedom of expression, this was a period when all taboos were broken. A new awareness arose over reappropriating the past and the geographical environment.

 

Simultaneously, as Turkey became more and more integrated into the global world, it was also able to meld a philosophical critique of modernity with its own world of meaning. The result was the expansion of our mental norms in all directions, a general raising of standards, and the deepening of our take on normative truths.

 

People came to take all this for granted and transformed it into a natural expectation. They came to posit good governance as a run-of-the-mill demand. However, the standard of normality had also changed over the same thirteen years. Not just what you did but also how you did it had gained in importance…. In fact, it is thanks to the AKP that Turkey is now being evaluated in the light of the criteria for a "normal" democracy. Yet the ruling party did not fully grasp the implications of this outcome that was actually of its own making. It assumed that providing better services and promoting the country to a higher division in the league tables would be enough by itself. Appreciating that the opportunity of certain abnormal conditions provided by politics might well turn out to be transient, the party forcefully tried to make sure that certain democratic thresholds could be surpassed as soon as possible.

 

Yet, perhaps half of the AKP constituency also wants the return to normality itself to proceed along normal lines. They don't want a political environment where they are solely limited to following those in power, and where an atmosphere of constant fighting and bombast prevails. This is what everybody needs to understand: The bar for normality has been set much higher in Turkey in an irreversible way.

The election results reflect the AKP's inability to manage in the short run all that is likely to prove hugely beneficial in the long run. The HDP's tactical success cannot be denied. But it is as yet clear what this success will entail for the "solution process" and for Kurds in general. Neither does the success of the MHP hold much meaning beyond an enhanced bargaining power in the short run. The fact of the matter is that Turkey's progress toward peace, democracy and prosperity depends on the existence of and the common sense to be displayed by the AKP. At the end of the day, it is this party that has won yet another election and will keep winning others in the future. Hence, these elections also need to be analyzed primarily through the AKP…

 

Perhaps it is not that surprising for this party — which entered politics at an abnormal historical moment and then succeeded in normalizing both the country and its own existence — to fall behind what has become a raised bar of "normality," and to prove unable to come up with an adequate response to society's rising expectations. It may be the case that from the fact of their widening constituency, the AKP leadership jumped to the conclusion that everybody had come to resemble them. But on the contrary, what this party has been to emancipate people and to empower them as individuals. Nobody is identical to anybody else anymore, and it is first and foremost the AKP's own supporters who are determined not to let this opportunity created by their own party get away.

 

 

Önceki İçerikKarar almak ve yönetim
Sonraki İçerikDokuz puan nereye gitti?