History made a great gesture to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) by providing this party with a big conjecture-based support at home, in the region and across the globe between Nov. 2, 2002, when it came to power, and approximately late 2010. What were these factors that were favorable to the AK Party?
Internal: The public’s willingness for change. The emerging religious middle class starting to lend serious support to democracy. The Kurdistan Worker’s Party’s (PKK) war creating exasperation among Turks, Kurds and other citizens of Turkey. No one is now moved with empty heroic discourse.
The AK Party seems to have learned a lesson from the Feb. 28, 1997 postmodern coup’s targeting the religious people in particular. However, although it is the ruling party, the state apparatus is controlled almost completely by pro-tutelage people and Kemalists. A fierce war has been waged against this party. The Kemalist bureaucracy is doing everything to sabotage the government’s efforts. In particular, the judicial bureaucracy that is haunted by a small group of elites is involved.
On the other hand, the pro-junta groups inside the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) are preparing to overthrow the government. The government is aware of many things. But we’ll have to wait for many years before the public learns of them and legal proceedings are launched in connection with them.
External: The government is propping up its democratically obtained legitimacy with outside support. The anti-democratic system can no longer be maintained in Turkey. Globalization and democracy are making big progress across the world. Accordingly, as a party acting as the driving force of democratization in Turkey, the AK Party can mobilize external support. In a smart move, the AK Party does not demonize the US or the EU; rather, it seeks to set sail to these worlds. It is exerting great efforts to promote the country’s EU bid. This attitude neutralizes the propaganda that suggests that the government has a secret agenda to turn the country into an Iran-like country. It adds to the party’s legitimacy.
The increasing anti-democratic interventions served to boost sympathy and support for the party both inside and outside. The party attached a vital importance to the reforms. Meanwhile, in 2007, the investigations into Ergenekon -- a clandestine organization nested within the state trying to overthrow or manipulate the democratically elected government -- started and at the same time, the AK Party made its first try for a new constitution. And in April 27 of the same year, the army issued a clear memorandum to prevent Abdullah Gül from being elected as president on charges that his wife wears a headscarf. For the first time in the history of the republic, a government did not backpedal, but issued a harsh response to the memorandum. Despite the Constitutional Court’s obstructive efforts, Gül was elected as president. This contention dramatically boosted the AK Party’s votes and support. In other words, like a litmus test, the party was becoming politically stronger so long as it throttled on for democratization.
In the external world, the Bush era had ended and the Obama era had begun. It was a time slice when regional wars and instability were considered unfavorable. Globalization was progressing, creating a zone of stability that interconnected the whole world. That meant that the super powers that would lend support to coup perpetrators became history.
This was the AK Party’s most dynamic and most successful era. The Kurdish, Alevi and Armenian initiatives, launched in 2010, were the boldest moves in the history of the republic. Moreover, the success of these initiatives meant the end of the deep state that used to keep itself powerful with these disputes teeming with red lines. Simultaneously, the investigations and legal proceedings into coups and the deep state were underway. The AK Party’s velocity and the society’s support of this velocity were tremendous.
But for some reason, everything was radically reversed after the June 2011 elections. The PKK terminated the negotiations with its attack in Silvan on July 14 and restarted its war. The collapse of the Kurdish initiative was followed by the end of the Armenian and Alevi initiatives. The government’s open backing of coup investigations and trials gradually waned. The prime minister expressed his unhappiness about the probe into the Feb. 28 postmodern coup, which had targeted his own political school.
Yes, a favorable conjuncture has been wasted away unnecessarily. There are now more unfavorable circumstances both inside and outside. It is for this reason I am more optimistic. Why?
Because the only way out of a dangerous stalemate is to implement a radical, democratic move and the AK Party is a pragmatic party that makes such moves only when it is in tight corner. Moreover, if these moves are not made, I think we’ll have some serious problems.
I hope the government will not take this risk.