Why should it be the CHP?

Etyen Mahcupyan

The Turkish original of this article was published as ‘Niçin CHP’yle olmalı?’ on 2nd July 2015.


For those whose take on the world is as the setting for a fight between east and west, between Muslims and global forces, and between AKP and the entire opposition to it, an AKP-CHP coalition is a conspiracy that has to be evaded at all costs. This is because it is backed by the western world as well as the secularist bourgeoisie. There are two things that these actors want of Turkey. One is economic and political stability. The second is forging a Turkey whose foreign policy they can control or at least influence. It would not be incorrect to note that when the second objective seems impossible to attain, the actors in question may well forego the first objective, too, and opt to pursue destabilization. But this cannot be a position for all times and under all circumstances. For if instability exceeds a certain point, then you end up with no chance of keeping Turkey under control. Hence if in foreign policy one-sided attempts to influence were to be replaced my mutual interaction, it would not be surprising to have the same actors switch instantaneously into strong adherents of a “stable Turkey.”


This is what an AKP-CHP coalition implies for this section of society. But you don’t really need them to promote this coalition. Turkey has come to the end of Kemalism-labeled historical parenthesis. From now on, it is going to be impossible to keep society together on the basis of centralism, statism, authoritarian laicism, and official Turkish nationalism. Meanwhile, the Muslim section, which is the principal element capable of normalizing and democratizing the entire edifice, happens to be coming from the periphery. This is not negative in itself. Still, in a world that continues to be dominated by a superficial sort of modernism, any Islamic identity bearer coming in from the periphery has to prove itself by measuring up to a rationality yardstick. This is why the AKP’s “global legitimacy” has also rested on two criteria: Running the economy in rational fashion, and putting a rational distance between religion and itself. The AKP was able to achieve the first. As for the second, at a sociological level it, too, has been making breathtaking progress. However, for their part AKP members and supporters also have to recognize that over the last year, the impression that the party’s collective intelligence has been impaired, and that rationality has been increasingly abandoned in both spheres, has become very widespread indeed. This, moreover, was not and is not due to any “mastermind’s conspiracy.” It was the AKP itself that committed various mistakes, and proved inadequate in managing itself and its image.


The problem is that this country sorely needs the AKP to further this normalization and democratization. Hence this party has to re-establish its “global legitimacy” in order to open the door to yet another transformative phase. And here is an ideal opportunity that presents itself: a coalition with the CHP. For this would be tantamount to establishing a new benchmark, a new “zero point.” As against all accusations of authoritarianism or even dictatorship, it would also establish beyond any doubt that the AKP and its leader derive their strength from nothing but democracy. It would be a step compelling even the blind to see and recognize this fundamental fact. A step that is most closely dependent on the approval, common sense and satisfaction rating of the AKP’s electorate. Therefore also a step that is likely to lead to the recognition that the AKP is the principal standard-bearer of democracy. 


The impact of this coalition would not be limited to re-designing the meaning and significance of the AKP. It would also act as the lever of intra-party normalization and democratization. And not only that, but it would exercise the same function for the CHP. Hence might it become possible to advance from Kemalism to post-Kemalism not through fractures and separations but in unity, and to make positive progress in the direction of an enduring constitution. In short, within a broad historical perspective all pieces would truly be falling into place.