Joost Lagendijk: ‘Turks want change’

ISTANBUL – The winner of the Turkish elections of last Sunday, the AKP, will have to come with a reasonable offer for a new constitution, says Dutch Joost Lagendijk, teacher at the Istanbul Sabanci University and former Euro Parlemetarian. He is optimistic: ‘The Turks want change.’

Lagendijks optimism is mainly based on the power of social institutions, like business associations and NGO’s. Lagendijk: ‘They too want a constitution that takes Turkey forward. Without it, the country will get stuck.’

And this pressure from outsiders is what all parties need, states Lagendijk. The AKP is, in his phrasing, ‘not used to consult with others.’ Now they will have to, because the party didn’t get enough seats to change the constitution, that was installed by the militairy power in 1982, on it’s own. But the question is whether the opposition will accept a possible negotiation offer.


Problem with the biggest opposition party, the CHP, is that the position of the reformist leader is not very strong: the CHP won seats, but less than expected. Some forces in the party want to get rid of him, to return to the nationalism that ruled the party for long. ‘I do have faith in the party leader’, says Lagendijk. ‘I hope he is strong enough to withstand powers that want to push him out.’

In case he is not and the CHP sticks to the nationalist line, they will certainly clash with the other nationalists at the constitution negotiation table: the Kurds. Their party, the BDP, won substantially and has a huge interest in a new constitution, but is not necessarily willing to compromise. Lagendijk: ‘Their tradition is to say: ‘this is what we want, dot.’

Lagendijk hopes the party feel pressured enough by the wish of the people for change. ‘Earlier parties refused to takes seats in a parliamentary commission for onstitutional change, proposed by the AKP. Those days are over now.’

3 replies
  1. Hevallo Azad
    Hevallo Azad says:

    Mr Lagendijk, remind us when was the last time the Kurdish party was at any ‘negotiating’ table and to say ‘this is what we want, dot’. You are in danger of repeating the same mantra as the Turkish state, always blaming the Kurds for everything without ever giving them as chance to challenge your stereotypes of them.

    Blaming the victims will get everybody, nowhere fast!

    The Kurdish promise is peace! If anyone is listening!

  2. Mehmet SC
    Mehmet SC says:

    What I most like about Herr Lagendijk’s articles is that he focuses on what people of Turkey think, instead of losing concentration by assuming, it is Turkey, or Turkish state, or AKP or BDP, that hold one single truth. I have listened to him on many occasions, and I appreciate him talking to people and listening them. On one occasion, during his visit to US, I had the chance to enjoy his conversation with Turkish (and Kurdish, too) students in a small college town in US, where he came only to talk to them.

    However, I can not disagree with Bay Azad on his remarks that Lagendijk seemed to have forgotten his own strength, and assumed BDP is composed of one body of people without any differences within. I believe, more in depth journalism is needed to also study different thoughts within BDP, and display these to us.

    Yet, Bay Azad is not too different in the sense that he targets the Turkish state but forgets the fact that Turkey is a country with different opinions, which are most of the time contradict to one another. Turkish state is no different.

    Turkish state policies are determined by politicians who are both of Turkish (Turks, Laz, Muhacirs [bosniak, albanians, bulgarians], etc.) and for the sake of recognizing them separately, let’s assume, and of Kurdish descent. Particularly after the last elections, considering a good proportion of AKP are of Kurdish origin, and they won about half of the votes of Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin.

    As playing the psychologically problematic “victim trauma” will be no help to people within BDP, or to Kurds in general in the area, as they now have the biggest opportunity ever to change something within the state according to their wishes. Quitting is never a good choice as there are less and less external support for their policies abroad. They should understand that the solution is within the parliament, thus within Turkey.

    We are ready to listen only if you talk, do it in the parliament instead of quitting.

  3. Mehmet SC
    Mehmet SC says:

    Oh, I learnt something new. It was not Herr in Dutch, but Meneer. I overestimated the german influence on dutch language. 🙂 apologies


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