We have moved to the second stage in the fight against COVID-19. This stage, which Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has dubbed “controlled social life,” is not a return to normal. “The rules of the new normal” are being created in consideration of the possibility of a second wave of infections.
Fighting the virus is a dynamic process. As journalist Okan Müderrisoğlu pointed out, gradual bending of the measures are pilot schemes for finding the new normal. This strategy is similar to ones pursued in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and other European countries.
U.S. President Donald Trump, on the other hand, has set his mind on moving faster toward the new normal. Meanwhile, Turkey has performed much better than the U.S. and European countries in the fight against the virus. It has also set an example of cooperation and solidarity in sending medical aid to 55 countries during the pandemic process. In countries that have actualized the new normal, the economy is at the top of the agenda. This is also the case with us, though with important differences.
Of course, not every country’s new normal is the same. In none of them, however, is the opposition as dispersed as in Turkey. Opposition discourse has incorporated reminders of past coups, discourses of the palace regime, accusations of a one-man regime in reference to the coup of Sept. 12, 1980, the words “no escape from the ill-fortune” in reference to the execution of Prime Minister Adnan Menderes in 1961 and claims of snap elections.
After the opposition’s campaign that “we will be worse than Italy” failed, the clamor of “economic collapse” broke out. The argument that “we have become more authoritarian in the time of corona” is being raised in cooperation with Western media to overshadow the success in fighting the pandemic.
Interestingly, this “authoritarianism” is in no way complete. They insist on maintaining this decadelong discourse with new material. Now, the virus has provided just that.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) notorious discourse of the “one-man regime” in the time of coronavirus knows no bounds.
CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who supposedly uses less harsh language than vice-chairs, undermines facts with his metaphors.
His extreme comments, fueled by his opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, are a unique version of the new normal days.
Kılıçdaroğlu did try to conceal the coup implications voiced by his party’s authorities. Yet, his remarks were so controversial that I’m wondering who will conceal his. He has said the general success in the fight against the virus is thanks to the science committee’s efforts and that “the failure in distribution of masks” is due to the “one-man regime.”
The opposition in Italy, Britain, Spain and the U.S. has not criticized the failure of their countries in the fight against the virus as creatively and selectively as Kılıçdaroğlu.
He has argued that the CHP is the party that has suffered the most from all the coups. This argument is so contrary to the realities of Turkish political life that it would still be unacceptable if Kılıçdaroğlu had said that former prime ministers Menderes, Süleyman Demirel and Necmettin Erbakan and President Erdoğan deserved coups.
However, at least he would be consistent with himself and with his party’s past. In the name of embracing democracy, he thinks that the CHP can build a new democratic discourse without confronting its history, which garnered power from one-party rule and coups.
In the same speech, Kılıçdaroğlu accused Erdoğan – who prevented the July 15, 2016, coup attempt and brought it to the court – of staging a civilian coup on July 20.
Apart from comparing the presidential system approved by the nation’s vote to the Sept. 12 coup plotters, he sees the coup plotters as more “democratic,” while he calls Erdoğan a “dictator” and his fellow party members continue to insinuate coup-like discourse every day. This is a sick sense of democracy.
The following remark by Kılıçdaroğlu should not go unnoticed: “Erdoğan and all the institutions he has structured will launch a campaign against the CHP in the coming period.” This remark should be read the opposite way round.
As part of a campaign, the CHP is preparing for very tough opposition.
Its goal is to force Turkey into snap elections; if not, to suppress it politically and economically by keeping the country in a constant atmosphere of snap elections.
[Daily Sabah, 12 May 2020]