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October 07, 2010, Thursday

Marginal MHP

The hardest blow dealt by the referendum hit the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The prayer performed by its leadership at the ancient Ani ruins displays just how strong they were struck.Devlet Bahçeli, the MHP leader, along with his staff, felt the need to demonstrate their level of piety at the eastern border of Turkey, within viewing distance of Armenia. He spoke about conquest and in his cracking voice proceeded to pray while saying, “It is as though Anatolia was never conquered and, if necessary, we shall conquer it again.”

I don’t now what a conquest prayer would be. I’m not sure if the armies of Islam would showcase such activities in the face of their enemies before setting out on the road towards conquest. But it’s not hard to say this: Bahçeli’s outburst, which he thinks is grandiose, is indicative of marginalization. It needs to be interpreted as an attempt by a party leader, who cannot get his voters to say “no,” to conceal his failure.

No matter what way it’s looked at, the prayer at Ani is wearisome. It is racist alright and it’s obvious that the old man has aged. While expressing his love for the country in a last-ditch effort, he is as effective as a high school play. And the sentence, “This nation is not without a keeper,” a common phrase used by nationalists and that has been used for quite some time, sounds just like an ordinary sentence in this play.

Bahçeli speaks of Turks’ power to conquer to everyone in Anatolia. At a time when the Turk, Armenian, Kurd, Arab and Bosnian have all made efforts to reconcile with their own identities, Bahçeli pulls out the conquest baton. As if he is the possessor of that power!

This marginal cry is actually proof that the change taking place in Turkey is no longer veiled by heroism. It also heralds who the new owners of the nation are, who don’t operate based on pure heroic rhetoric. It’s not difficult to imagine who will be able to bear the winds of change. Politicians who can’t come to terms with the change in Turkey, who don’t believe in peace and don’t believe in the power of the country are bound to become marginalized.

So great is the desire for change that the whole of politics, including the leading party which reigned supreme in the referendum elections, is repositioning itself. Even the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is aware that it must grow and move towards change. For this reason, it will be no surprise that those within the AK Party who resist change and elements that favor the continuation of an archaic nationalism will be pushed aside soon.

The whole of the political spectrum, from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) to the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), must establish a brand new dynamic that is able to adapt to changes that come from within. It is possible to read the division within the Felicity Party (SP) as being influenced by this effect. It would not be enough to say that the conflict taking place within the SP is merely a result of personal disputes. This new circle, which has broken off from the National View ideology, represents another aspect of this change.

It is evident that the CHP is looking for a new approach as a result of the change that has started with leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Because the CHP can see that it will not be able to hold the power it desires by hanging on to the status quo.

Similarly the pro-Kurdish BDP’s discourse that supports reconciliation and not conflict is indicative of this. Because there is a desire that is far above the current state of politics in Turkey. Because it is the AK Party who has been able to read this change the best thus far, the people’s vote lies with them.

The MHP’s out-dated politics that do not reflect the needs of the time are quickly becoming marginalized. The inclination of the MHP’s voter base towards  “yes” in the referendum, despite all the MHP’s work, can be interpreted through this new political spirit and the alluring effect of change.

It is inevitable that politicians unable to read voters correctly will be marginalized. What is important here in terms of the general picture is this: There is always a quota for the marginal in politics. But, pushing politics that promote violence to the margins is what is important. The voters who today are signaling a break with the MHP and the BDP are heralds of this new reality.

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