Motives behind CHP’s Parliament boycott remain vague

Motives behind CHP’s Parliament boycott remain vague

The empty rows belong to CHP deputies who walked out of Parliament on June 28, during the oath-taking ceremony, after the speaker read jailed deputy Mehmet Haberal’s name and called him to swear-in.

July 03, 2011, Sunday/ 16:41:00/ ALİ ASLAN KILIÇ

Quite obviously, the Republican People's Party's (CHP) decision to boycott Parliament by not taking part in the swearing-in ceremony was an act of political suicide. The process intended as a threat has turned into an act of suicide. What was the reason for this?

The primary reason was the decision not to release from prison the Ergenekon suspects who were elected CHP deputies. The decision by the CHP leader not to take the oath until the ruling party makes moves to ensure the release of the new deputies currently in custody failed to attract popular support. Neither writers, columnists, nor intellectuals have said the CHP improved its electoral support by this boycott decision. Quite to the contrary, it was stressed that the CHP leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has dragged the party to the edge of becoming a marginal political entity by this irrational reaction. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) might have taken some steps due to concerns that the legitimacy of Parliament would be undermined in the absence of a strong opposition. This was a possibility. But what would have happened if the government had not responded to this threat? Is it possible that a poor poker player known for constant bluffing could win all the time? Threats suggesting that a crisis would break out and that Parliament would be unable to work have been thwarted by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said: “The opposition may attend or not; it is up to them. The commissions will work in Parliament no matter what.”

The plan devised to make the AK Party submit did not work out well. Now nobody understands why the CHP administration maintains its position considering that changing the stance of not taking the oath would be the wisest decision. It is impossible to understand why the main opposition party is willingly keeping itself out of parliamentary activities. But how has the CHP has been dragged into this? What was the actual goal of the CHP leader who made sure that the boycott decision was not discussed in the party group? Did he really consider not taking part in parliamentary activities for the next four years if his demands were not met?

Answers have been sought to these questions for days. Some analysts are trying to understand the actual reason behind the CHP's move. Probable explanations include: “The CHP is seeking to undermine the Ergenekon case”; “It is sabotaging the process of making a new constitution”; “It is trying to intimidate the intraparty opposition and to prevent an unscheduled party convention”; “Kılıçdaroğlu, who assumed the chairmanship of the party is administering the party through the instructions he receives from outside.” The CHP leader who failed to win over voters and party supporters was unable to argue that they had staged the boycott for the achievement of a solution at the Socialist International meeting in Athens where he raised the issue. Despite sending letters to international organizations the CHP leader failed to explain his party's position. This is an indirect confession that the CHP is in a delicate position. At least 100 CHP deputies reportedly wanted the boycott to end. The CHP administration, on the other hand, is seeking a way out of the conundrum. Looking for an honorable exit, the CHP has failed to appreciate one thing: That their threat did not succeed. The CHP is losing power and prestige as it preserves its current stance. Regardless of whether it was staged to address intraparty opposition or sabotage the making of a new constitution, the boycott decision keeps undermining the respectability and image of the CHP.

Does the AK Party like tension?

Despite the many unacceptable actions of the past having been abandoned, playing the politics of tension still seems to be popular. The eagerness of the BDP and the MHP to rely on this strategy is obvious. The boycott of the oath taking in Parliament showed that the current CHP administration is no different than the former one despite its claim of inventing a new CHP. A friend from the AK Party said that what Turkey most needs at the present time is a constructive opposition given that current opposition parties seek to ignite tensions rather than respond to social demands. In response to this argument, I told him that they might actually like tension. Recalling that as a party, they were avoiding tension, he said: “Despite determination and strong efforts, it does not seem to eliminate the tension because it is not a unilateral process. Despite this, we will remain determined to reduce tensions. We are not the generator of tension, and we will take care not to sustain a state of tension.” Noting that the people said they did not like tension in the June 12 elections, he further said that Erdoğan put extra emphasis on this issue during his balcony speech and all party units and organs need to pay attention to using constructive language on the matter.

Noting that they avoided nominating any candidates who wear the headscarf in an attempt to avoid a probably crisis, even if meant a decline in electoral support, he underlined that they paid attention to making sure that their candidates did not have a single flaw let alone have been interrogated during an ongoing investigation. Asked about his view of the prime minister's response to the CHP's boycott, he said: “We had to remind the opposition of their responsibility to work toward the attainment of a solution. Otherwise, their attitude suggesting that the administration should take steps would become more visible and stronger.”

MHP and BDP one step forward, two steps back

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) aligned with the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) because of the court's decision not to release Ergenekon suspect Engin Alan, who was elected  as an MHP deputy in the June 12 elections. While criticizing the judicial decision the MHP, unlike the BDP and CHP, did participate in the oath-taking ceremony in Parliament. This different attitude was welcomed by local party branches and party supporters. This was not an ordinary decision for the MHP. The oath crisis would not have been what it is now had the MHP also acted like the others. Stressing that the AK Party would not be able to operate in Parliament in the absence of an opposition, experts note: “This would have been a real crisis; in such a case, an early election would have been a real possibility. In that case, the ruling party would not be able to enjoy the support of 50 pct of the voters and represent them.” Without the MHP's participation, the boycott has just become an irrational action.

The MHP, which resolved the 367 crisis that erupted during the presidential elections before the 2007 parliamentary elections, is unable to adopt a consistent approach towards normalization. The following statement was made by a friend who had served in the top management of the MHP: “We were relieved by the decision to take part in the oath-taking ceremony. Just when we were thinking that things were going well, President [Abdullah] Gul's invitation was turned down. We are taking one step forward and two steps back.” The BDP suffers from a similar problem. They raise tensions just at a time when you are expecting a language of peace.

300 NGOs leave large model of constitution at Parliament gate

Demanding a new constitution, representatives of 300 nongovernmental organizations left a giant book at the gate of Parliament on Sunday. As part of the Civil Voices Festival sponsored by the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey, representatives of NGOs began by walking down Yüksel Street in Ankara. Their journey ended at Parliament’s Çankaya Gate, where the organizations left a large model of a book with the words “Civil Constitution” written atop it. A group gathered in front of the Humanity Monument held banners that read “Pluralistic, egalitarian, democratic, civil, libertarian, participatory and ecological constitution.” Here, in a prepared statement, the group said a new constitution needed to be prepared with the active participation of Turkey’s civil society. The group wanted to walk to Parliament chanting slogans but was stopped by police. They were allowed to select seven people to deliver the book to the gate of Parliament. The group later peacefully dispersed without incident. İstanbul Today’s Zaman

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