Imagine, you don’t know too much about Turkey’s past and present, and you read this opinion article that opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu wrote yesterday in the Washington Post. He writes about how ‘the AKP is systematic and ruthless in its persecution of any opposition to its policies’, and uses the sentence: ‘Turkey today is a country where people live in fear.’ Kilicdaroglu draws the picture of a totalitarian state, with himself as the shiny centre of the opposition, who would lead the country to freedom for everybody if only the brutal leaders of the country would allow him to. If you wouldn’t know any better, you’d nominate Kilicdaroglu for the Nobel Peace Prize.
No no, I’m not going to defend the AKP. I wouldn’t dream of that, since the AKP government just doesn’t serve democracy right – proof of that all over this website, like here, here, here and here, just to mention a few. There is no need to talk about the AKP to show how totally ridiculous the writing of mr. Kilicdaroglu is.
The opposition leader likes to display his party the CHP as a good choice for Turkey to get back on the democratization track. He even mentions his party is the ‘vestige’ of Turkish democracy. The truth is however exactly the opposite: the CHP is at the very roots of the basic problem that Turkey has with democracy: the main goal of the Turkish state is to protect the state, not it’s citizens. It is one of the basics of Kemalism, which is the fundamental ideology of the CHP, that was founded by Atatürk.
Kemalism is not an ideology that serves democracy. On the contrary: besides not protecting it’s citizens, Kemalism for example orders ‘modernism’ (or what the state considers modern, which is pretty outdated by now and for example hampers freedom of religion) and nationalism (and thus excluses people). For decades, Turkey was a one party state ruled by the CHP. No opposition allowed, and Atatürk, who introduced changes 100% top down with no say for the people whatsoever, even executed people who opposed his vision – all for the sake of the country, of course.
I don’t know the general sentiment at the time, but I can imagine people who opposed Atatürk were living in fear – which means, being afraid to lose your life. For Kilicdaroglu to suggest that Turkey is nowadays a country ‘where people live in fear’ is so utterly shameful. It is a flagrant and evil exaggeration, a lie that does not serve any purpose but his own parties strategy – whichever strategy that may be. (And, mr. Kilicdaroglu, look at what is happening in Turkey’s neighbour Syria: that, sir, is a country where people live in fear.) It is just a big a lie as his remark that the AKP systematically and ruthlessly persecutes any opposition to it’s policies. To put it simple: crap.
The CHP has nothing to do with democracy, not in the past and not in the present. They are unable to reform themselves into a real social democratic party, which they are in name. Kilicdaroglu shows no sign of wanting to reform the party, and even if he wanted to, he couldn’t do it, because the mastodon Kemalists still hold a lot of power in the party behind the scenes. We will see that again in a big party meeting that is planned for later this month.
I would even like to go one step further. For Turkey to get back on track and democratize further, the best thing that could happen is the abolishment of the CHP. Hop, straight into the history books with it. As long as this anti-democratic institute covering up as social democrat party exists, a genuine and appealing opposition can never emerge. And only a genuine and appealing opposition, that really puts democratic values at the top of it’s priorities list, can do something against the too powerful AKP.