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DEVA SP GP applaud as CHP secularism and YSP-TIP leftism

DEVA, SP, GP applaud as CHP secularism and YSP-TIP leftism unite

As the rigid discourse of Turkish and Kurdish leftists merge with the CHP’s ultra-secularism, DEVA, the Felicity Party (SP) and the GP watch from the sidelines and offer a standing ovation.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan opened the Istanbul Finance Center (IFC) on Monday. Then, having delivered on key promises, including Türkiye’s indigenous electric car, aircraft carrier, observation satellite, new homes for earthquake survivors, city hospitals and the finance center, he is scheduled to open the first phase of the country’s first nuclear power plant in Akkuyu, Mersin. A firm believer in public service, Erdoğan distinguishes himself from his opponents by delivering services and taking concrete steps. At the same time, he criticizes the pro-opposition Nation Alliance for receiving the endorsement of the PKK and the Gulenist Terror Group (FETÖ), arguing that the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, his main rival, cannot govern Türkiye and highlighting the fragmentation of the seven-party opposition alliance. Upon unveiling his election manifesto on April 4, Erdoğan demonstrated that he would go beyond mega projects and take new steps to impact voters’ everyday lives. By contrast, Kılıçdaroğlu is yet to release his campaign statement. Instead, he would stick to the opposition bloc’s previously published list of standard policies. Accordingly, the CHP chairperson highlights his campaign pledges by posting video messages on social media. It would have made sense for Kılıçdaroğlu to respond in kind to his opponent’s comprehensive manifesto, which covers his 21 years in power and the next five years. Indeed, many people do not read election manifestos, but the lack thereof may give the impression of weakness. Another interesting point is that Kılıçdaroğlu does not rely heavily on rhetorical attacks in his election campaign. What will happen in the home stretch remains to be seen, but that is a deliberate choice. It is possible that the CHP chairperson’s campaign managers recommended he act as Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu did in his 2019 mayoral campaign. Perhaps he tasked the Good Party (IP) Chairperson Meral Akşener and fellow CHP members with making severe accusations.

Difference between Kılıçdaroğlu and Imamoğlu

Still, Kılıçdaroğlu is notably different from Imamoğlu as a candidate. He has a long history of making strongly-worded statements, unkept promises, reciting illegally-obtained wiretaps in Parliament, describing Türkiye’s response to the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, as a “civilian coup,” petitioning the Constitutional Court to uphold the headscarf ban and failing as a civil servant. In other words, the CHP chair has been around for a long time and comes with particular baggage, making it harder for him to be marketable. It remains unclear whether he can present himself as a “responsible statesman” by softening his tone. Either way, Kılıçdaroğlu’s tactics show voters that the Nation Alliance remains a divided and incoherent coalition in terms of ideology, identity and policies. The opposition bloc may have produced several documents, but the Nation Alliance never ceased to be reactionary. Anti-Erdoğanism and the promise of an “augmented” parliamentary system proved insufficient for Kılıçdaroğlu to arrive at a coherent discourse that covers all his supporters. Nor does the overarching emphasis on democracy compensate for the Nation Alliance’s lack of a common vision. His ambiguity over political and ideological issues could also reflect a deliberate choice. In the end, that void is filled by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) – under the New Green Party (YSP), the Worker Party (TIP) and the pro-CHP media. Pro-CHP ultra-secularists, HDP and TIP have increasingly described Erdoğan and the People’s Alliance as “radical religionists.” Meanwhile, the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) and the Future Party (GP) take it upon themselves to accuse the AK Party of “undermining Islam.” Finally, sure left-leaning liberals, who run for Parliament on the YSP ticket, talk about the republic’s reconstruction, problematize the popular resistance to the 2016 coup attempt, and bring up the “Kurdish question.” The same people believe that Kılıçdaroğlu must launch a new peace process if he were to win. Yet, they conveniently ignore that the movement, including HDP or YSP, derailed two reconciliation processes. They bear responsibility for the Kobani riots and PKK’s “trench” campaign and refuse to engage in self-criticism. Instead, they are offered a lifeline and allowed to develop “policies and discourses” for the Nation Alliance and its presidential candidate – which aggravates, rather than mitigates, the opposition bloc’s fragmentation. As the rigid discourse of Turkish and Kurdish leftists merge with the CHP’s ultra-secularism, DEVA, the Felicity Party (SP) and the GP watch from the sidelines and offer a standing ovation. [Daily Sabah, April 19 2023]