Turkey’s upcoming elections remain on the agenda of world politics. While Turkey, as the heir of the Ottoman Empire, seemed to lose her status of being a great state, she has gradually realized her historical role after the end of the Cold War. The more Turkey internalizes her historical mission, the more she comes face to face with the Western powers.
In the discussion organized by the SETA (Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research) on Turkey’s early elections in Washington, D.C., I was one of the keynote speakers along with Nebi Miş, director of domestic policy, and Murat Yeşiltaş, director of security policy at SETA. While I represented the GENAR Research Institute, Kılıç Buğra Kanat from SETA was the moderator of the discussion. For the participants who were closely interested in Turkish politics, we thoroughly discussed Turkey’s upcoming elections together with the future of electoral alliances, petty political parties and the Kurdish votes. In such an informative discussion, Nebi Miş laid bare Turkey’s present electoral milieu and the fundamental ideas of competing political parties, while Murat Yeşiltaş concentrated on the Kurdish question by explicating the electoral behaviors of our Kurdish citizens in the last few elections.
In the second part of the discussion, when participants posed their questions to the speakers, the first questions were naturally on the possible results of the upcoming elections. One of the participants argued that the Turkish electorate voted for political stability so far, while in the upcoming elections they have diverse expectations.
It is, in fact, true that electoral behaviors change from one election to another. For instance, when basic needs in infrastructure, health and education are met, electors’ expectations lean toward more advanced needs. In this respect, the growth of economy remains always on the top of the electorate’s agenda. From the electors’ point of view, although Turkey’s national stance in her foreign relations is crucial, economic issues never lose their primacy.
Comparing the present situation in Turkey with those in Egypt and Russia, another participant questioned the political future of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. To emphasize the injustice in comparing Turkey’s democracy with Egypt and Russia, I stated that although the history of Turkish democracy had sporadically been interrupted by coup d’états, Turkey never ceased to advance in her democratic journey. In this respect, the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) allegiance to democracy becomes stronger against all odds, while justice, human rights and individual rights keep staying at the forefront of the party’s manifesto.
Another participant emphasized the Turkish-American relations and its possible effects on the upcoming Turkish elections. In response, first of all, I argued that the effect of foreign affairs has never been greater than that of internal dynamics on Turkish elections. Moreover, although the political administrations of Turkey and the U.S. could have not come to terms in Syria, they have no serious problems either. Although the alliance between Turkey and the U.S. has its own ups and downs, their problems are not deep-seated or unsolvable.
Finally, when another participant emphasized the significance of democracy and justice for the economy, I argued that Turkey is more fortunate than many European countries in the issue of operating democracy, simply because Turkey does not work with the present dictators due to its political history that has always been free from colonialism. Therefore, Turkey has the chance of becoming a role model in the operation of democracy, even for the advanced democracies of Europe, with her vision of justice and democracy.
[Daily Sabah, İhsan Aktaş, 19 May 2018]