The critical turning point was the AKP’s harsh reaction to the military ultimatum of April 27, 2007. From that day on, with the cases against Ergenekon, a clandestine organization nested within the state trying to overthrow or manipulate the democratically elected government, and the Sledgehammer (Balyoz) coup plan, outside manipulation was warded off and the judiciary could act with greater confidence. Then came the lawsuit against the generals of the Sept. 12, 1980 coup, and finally the probe into the military intervention of Feb. 28, 1997. Additionally, all parliamentary parties have agreed to set up a parliamentary commission that will investigate all coups and coup attempts as a whole.
This implies that the threshold Turkish society crossed is now being reflected in Parliament as well. This is because no political party or movement can secure social support if it continues to promote military tutelage. In other words, there is now a new perspective that goes beyond identity differences and embraces all social groups. Yet, the change within Islamic groups deserves special mention in this transformation. As a matter of fact, these groups account for the majority of society and the party that represents them has been in office for 10 years. Therefore, if Islamic groups had not changed as described, Turkey would possibly be suffering the pangs of a tutelary regime.
On the other hand, we can say that the AKP will certainly reap the political gains from this campaign against military coups and bureaucratic interventions. This party, which is perceived as pro-Islamic and therefore pro-state and reactionary, not only resisted the threats against it but also opened the door to the litigation of coups with the referendum of 2010, while the groups who call themselves leftist continued to entertain doubts about it. As a result, it has once again been seen that the AKP is the physical and spiritual driving force of democratization. I should note that the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which is still unable to make up its mind whether to reject tutelage, has played the primary role in this outcome.
Yet trying coups does not imply there is a retrospective process of self-criticism and political catharsis. The ongoing investigations and lawsuits will have their main impact on the country’s future or, in more concrete terms, on the drafting of the new constitution. Indeed, as all political parties have sought co-plaintiff status in the lawsuit against the Sept. 12 coup and have collectively taken up a position against all coups, it is no longer possible to keep the constitution of Sept. 12. Moreover, the denigration of coups in people’s minds and consciences has made it impossible to continue to use the old constitution and amend it at will. It is a necessity, not an option, to prepare a completely new constitution on different grounds of legitimacy. Thus, the government has the opportunity to market the new constitution as the common will of all political parties and the whole of civil society, although in the past the new constitution had the risk of being attacked and battered as the AKP’s constitution.
Therefore, it is clear that any political party that undermines or is perceived to undermine this constitutional drafting process will lose considerable social support. Furthermore, if they do not sufficiently contribute to the constitutional drafting process, the opposition parties will not have a chance to save themselves by attributing the resulting text completely to the AKP. This is because all parties have made promises to society for the political confrontation of the past and the drafting of a new constitution. As a result, it is not hard to foresee that the CHP will be psychologically under duress and that this will further complicate the conflicts within the party in the coming days. Yet the same dynamics may offer a good opportunity for CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to take measures within the party to embolden his clout over the party. It should be noted that many groups within the CHP and its voter base are uneasy about the investigations into and lawsuits against the coups. While it may not be possible for him to purge his party of its neo-nationalist (ulusalcı) wing, which is close to the Ergenekon network, all at once, the neo-nationalists will most probably assume a passive stance against the social consensus on the litigation of coups, and this will make things easier for Kılıçdaroğlu.
As the tutelary regime is being transformed and condemned, the AKP is ironically paving the way for changes the CHP, as the founder of the regime, failed to make.