Defending the AKP

Two weeks to go, and the referendum on the constitutional changes as proposed by the AKP will be held. Even though it’s not an election, the campaigning is intense. So is the debate on the street, even going as far as physical fights between supporters and opponents of the changes. Whenever I join the debate, whether online or in real life, I get on my own nerves. I find myself defending the AKP.

Am I an AKP supporter? No, I’m not. If I had the right to vote in Turkey, I would never vote for them. They are conservative and religious, and neither of those is my cup of tea. I’m even happy that I don’t have the right to vote here, because I really wouldn’t know which party to choose. Anyway, if I’m not an AKP fan, why am I defending the party then? Because, in short, the accusations against the party are sometimes so totally ridiculous, that you just have to speak up.

It reminds me of a situation in my personal life. I was treated badly by somebody a couple of years ago. Some people around me who heard of it started talking about that person in a much harsher way than he deserved. I felt that wasn’t fair, and before I knew it, I heard myself defending him. That didn’t feel right: I was treated badly, so I didn’t want to be put in the position of defending the one doing that to me. At a certain point, I said to a friend in desperation: Please, don’t make me defend this person, I really don’t want that!

I might say that again one of these days. Please, don’t make me defend the AKP, I really don’t want that! But I feel I have to protest when for example people say that the AKP only wants to establish the sultanate again and the constitutional changes are the first step. I have to protest when it’s claimed that all Muslims are the same and their religion just orders them to introduce  sharia law. I have to protest when it’s said that the AKP’s leader Erdogan is vicious enough to have made even the EU believe that the constitutional changes are a step forwards towards EU accession. It’s just too far fetched, and more importantly, it’s based on fears, assumptions and prejudice rather than facts.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a debate about this based on facts and logical arguments? I would love to exchange knowledge, facts and views on the constitutional change package, but so far the NO-camp isn’t providing that. Even the biggest opposition party CHP doesn’t have logical arguments against the package. They say for example that the package wasn’t drawn up on the basis of social consensus. First: it’s idiotic that this criticism comes from the CHP, since they have been refusing to talk to the AKP for months now, even about the constitution, so don’t go on about finding social consensus. Second: it’s not a criticism of the changes themselves.

So, anybody from the NO-camp up for a rational debate? I’m willing to learn, to listen, to be convinced. But please, stop forcing me to defend the AKP!

1 reply
  1. hkubra
    hkubra says:

    Your post reminds me of Joost Lagendijk’s latest article in Radikal:

    The problem is the “no” campaign has only two reasons existing: first, there are those who say no because they prefer the status quo, exclusive and overtly-political attitude of judiciary, and don’t want things like affirmative action and hates AKP to guts for bringing these changes plus because they’re paranoid about AKP’s intentions – still… second, there are those who don’t actually oppose the changes, they are just opposing because AKP is bringing forth those changes. The problem of those leading the “no” side is how to bring these completely different “no” sides together, and the solution is: attack AKP. As it is their common ground the whole “no” campaign is built principle. This is as you point out problematic; because it has nothing to do with what is being polled. It is said that in such an important decision for Turkey’s future a side of the debate cannot and will now produce logical arguments; I think that brings us to the point you mentioned shortly: lack of political alternatives in Turkey.

    Now, I don’t support what AKP is at namely: religious conservative… yet in Turkey the whole spectrum is not a spectrum but a mosaic of right-wing parties; you do not have any proper liberal, leftist, or Green alternatives. As a result for instance I voted for AKP – not because I am 100% in-line with their arguments and political stance, but because they become almost progressive compared to the rest which you can pretty much define as ultra-right-wing-white-trash.


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