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December 30, 2012, Sunday

Polarization and stability

Turkey has been debating for a while what happened in Turkey's long-established university, Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), during a Göktürk-2 satellite launching ceremony.

First, the police and students clashed, and then the prime minister and the ODTÜ rector blamed each other. In a short while, almost everyone has taken sides in this conflict. And once again we have found ourselves in the midst of being polarized over an incident in Turkey.

The fact that incidents in Turkey quickly become political tools and that every incident is seen as an opportunity to criticize the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) should be analyzed in a different light than how it was analyzed back in the Turkey of 2002, 2007 or 2010. Or at least there are some other factors now that should be added to that analysis.

Violent opposition against the AK Party has been the core reason for standing against the fight against deep state, for standing against any kind of reform attempts and for trying to justify the Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) brutal acts. AK Party was the party of the religious people and the fact that such a party ended the Kemalist elites' control over the state has been met with hatred. People were annoyed that the military could no longer stage a coup or influence politics. Polarization emerged as a kind of a class issue, in a way. Privileged people did not want to share the state and power with “the public.” And they did not see it as a problem if the deep state, a coup or the PKK were used to this end as long as the country did not go back to the “dark ages” with the AK Party government.

But this analysis is becoming outdated now. Even if there are some valid aspects of this analysis, we need to revise it and not be stuck in the past. The prime minister and politicians should do this in particular, because the AK Party has left its 10-years in power behind. And regardless of how successful the AK Party is as a government that is in its third term in power, it has made serious mistakes such as killing 34 civilians with its own jets. The points I have made above should not be confused with the rightfully made criticisms against the government.

What I'd like to say is this: Because there isn't a main opposition party whose feet are firmly grounded; that has social support and legitimacy; is reformist and strong before the government, the reactions of those opposed to the AK Party are not able to be represented politically. The CHP is such an ahistorical party that there is nothing it can do to this end, save shutting itself down. We are witnessing a political picture berfore us which has a great disequilibrium as those who don't approve of the AK Party's policies and implementations are not reprsented.

This is a very risky situation for the country, including the government itself. The opposition, which is not able to be represented, is experiencing explosive bouts of anger as occured in ODTÜ and as it does from time to time in other local venues. And the prime minister, which his sharp tongue, is not missing any opportunity in increasing the magnitude of each crisis and deepining the polarization that is taking place. He is calculating that the intensification of the dichotomy between the religious segment of society and the Kemalists will agitate his own voter base and this will then work to crsytallize his own votes. This is actually partially correct. If one had before them a strong opposition, a balanced Parliament and a settled democracy, nobody but their own voter base would be of concern to them.

But Turkey unfortunately, does not have any of this. The polarization should be done away with quickly and the view of Turkish citizens, who are not being represented and are thus weary, who see the government as their own enemy must come to an end. Thus, we must stop from constantly creating different matters of crisis. Seeing all of the opposition as a part of the deep state, Ergenekon and pro-coup in order to ease consciences is the easy way out. And in actuality they form the other half of the country and if the injustices done by the Kemalists will this time not be repeated by the religious, then all of us have an equal say in what happens in this country.

In short, unless the AK Party cools off the heated polarization that is taking place by concentrating on its own voter base and steering clear of the others, this anger in the country will leave no room for stability. And in a country where where is not stability, you will never feel secure.

Previous articles of the columnist