Is The “Good Party” Really Good?
It has almost become ritual for every new formation in the right flank of the political spectrum in Turkey to claim that they combine the four tendencies.
Beginning with the Democratic Party under the leadership of Celal Bayar-Menderes, and reaching its zenith thanks to Süleyman Demirel, Turgut Özal and finally Tayyip Erdoğan, this populist rhetoric is still popular among the public, since IYI Party (or Good Party) has set out echoing the very same claim. Celal Bayar and his team had gone so far as to meet with the then banned TKP (the Communist Party of Turkey) for the 1950 elections to raid against the ruling single-party despotism which had long been running the Turkish political system. The pinnacle of this populist politics is unquestionably engaged by Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP, and admittedly it has not been a waste of effort. This discourse of unifying the four tendencies is immediately elapsed once the power is seized, after which we witness a return to the nationalist-conservative status-quo, and the dismissal of the “left, social-democratic” elements within.
Meral Akşener, who was trained in nationalist movement and later served as the interior minister during the DYP government, was very close to Tayyip Erdoğan during AKP’s foundation. We have yet to see how long it will take for a movement with the same tried-and-true rhetoric to gather support, especially when considering that its founder who has always belonged in the radical right and has been allegedly responsible for the unsolved political assassinations of the 90s.
The seemingly unpolitical branding chosen for this party whose aim is nothing short of absolute power is a classic example of oriental opportunism.
Today, our country is roughly divided into two political camps: Pro-Erdogan and Anti-Erdogan. We are seeing a similar divide starting to show even within the ranks of the AKP where a clear Erdogan opposition is starting to boil.
What the Anti-Erdogan camp is expecting is for the Good Party to grab a sizeable portion of the nationalist voters from Tayyip Erdogan’s opponents, amid the MHP and its pro-Erdogan stance. It is precisely for this reason that anti-Erdogan polling companies and publications are already playing up the newcomer’s voter potential, portraying them as commanding a very unlikely 23% of the popular vote.
I tend to categorically disagree with this dissertation even though social events can be highly unpredictable. In Turkey, the popular base of the nationalist parties (the MHP and the four-pronged GOOD party) tend to overlap with that of the AKP: the electorate which live predominantly in the Inner Aegean, Inner Anatolian and the Black Sea region is roughly the same and furthermore, they belong to Sub-social/economic groups and are relatively less educated. To separate the newly established GOOD party from this political stroke would be a folly, since their party program is basically not distinguishable from that of the AKP and the MHP. The constituents of these regions, who are mostly tea, nuts, wheat, and rice farmers, have been severely impoverished under the AKP regime, but they continue to vote for the ruling party regardless.
Despite the devastating economic policies that continue to destroy agriculture and animal husbandry, AKP, which has turned to non-production economic policies instead, continues to emerge victorious from almost all the elections held. In addition to the financial support it provides, they successfully satisfy the nationalistic aspirations of the voters by implementing a chauvinistic policy which is, in theory, supposed to be MHP’s feeding ground and its stronghold. Thus, these voters who are already conservative and Turkish nationalists by the virtue of their ethnicity have turned towards AKP, or rather Tayyip Erdogan in person, who supplies them with everything they want and need from the MHP. Now, MHP faces further threat in the form of Good Party which is apparently going after its more educated voter base.
One thing common to all the peoples of the world is that they are all intrinsically pragmatic. They will move towards their own interests and are incapable of developing policies. The people of the region I have outlined above still regard the AKP as their best option for their economic and social interest. And AKP, in return, is still able to distribute, albeit not as much as it used to, non-earned income to its constituents, and it is highly likely that they will be able to do so until the 2019 presidential elections. These factors seem to point that a 20% vote share for the Good Party is highly unlikely.
The question that faced us now is: Does a legislative contest even make sense under these conditions?
For a country like Turkey, which is being pushed into a 2-party system as evidenced by its pendulum-like tendencies (i.e. pro and anti-Erdogan), and the recent referendum for a Presidential governance, a new political party will prove to be pointless. The Parliament, already facile as it is, will be rendered completely ineffectual following the 2019 elections. There are already departments being set up at the Presidential Palace which will act in lieu of ministries once the new system is put in place. The upcoming era for Turkey, unless things get topsy-turvy, will be one with no acting government in place.
What will you do in case of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won the Presidential Election with 51% of the vote- despite legitimate objections?
The question that faced us now is: Does a legislative contest even make sense under these conditions? Erdogan has already seized the legislative, executive and judicial powers, and is utilizing them to their full extent. To further waste time and resources under the guise of establishing a new political voice is playing directly into his hands. CHP and other opposition parties, including the Good Part owe themselves -and the public, an answer to the question: What will you do in case The Higher Board of Elections declare at 11 PM on the evening of the election that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won the Presidential Election with 51% of the vote -despite legitimate objections? This is a very valid question because every opposition party seems to have forgotten the disgrace and the ignominy of the recent referendum results.
The compliance legislations that were supposed to have passed within 6 months of the April 16th elections are still hung. There is no consensus on the election laws or electoral thresholds. It is nothing short of treachery to be engaged with forming new political parties and giving the public false hopes during these dire times. What needs to be done is coming up with effective democratic ways of political combat outside the boundaries of the parliament.