WHAT’S YOUR WISH FOR 2009?
Name: Aylin Atalay
Profession: English teacher
A strong opposition party, that’s Aylin’s wish for 2009. A party that defends the secular republic but hopefully also thinks constructively about Turkey’s future rather than just polarize. “This spring there are local elections and I have no idea who to vote for”, says Aylin.“ I don’t want to vote again for the biggest opposition party CHP just because there is no alternative. Turkey needs a better opposition party. There are many people like me, who are fed up with the polarization and wish there was a party that could provide checks and balances to the governing AKP in a constructive way.’
The polarization in politics reflects the polarization in Turkish society. The governing party AKP consists of devout Muslims, and secularists believe the AKP wants to Islamize the country. These secularists basically have no other voice than the CHP, the biggest opposition party, which made it its policy to automatically oppose everything proposed by the AKP. Aylin sees that in her family too. She is from the west of Turkey, Thrace, from a strongly secular family. Voting CHP is traditional, as is routinely demonising the AKP. Aylin doubts these unbreakable truths. ‘And many Turks agree with me’, she says. ‘But there is no party that represents me and that can also make a difference in the parliament. I feel bad about that, because this is how Turkey got stuck in the rift between Islam and secularism.’
Time is running out: the elections are scheduled for March. Aylin imagines herself in the voting booth and is horrified by the thought of putting her trust in either the AKP or the CHP. ‘A good opposition party would put an end to my election doubts and would help Turkey on the way to becoming more stable, both socially and politically. It might even lead to a little less black and white thinking in my family.’