After many years of waiting, Turkey’s Muslims rejoiced at the opportunity to perform their Friday and Eid prayers at the Hagia Sophia. That joy, to nobody’s surprise, went hand in hand with a war of words between Turkish politicians. Critics speculated that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s administration intended to “restore the caliphate,” claiming that Turkey’s top imam had “cursed” Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the republic’s founder, in his Friday sermon.
Turkey’s political parties are currently preoccupied with the proposed regulation of social media platforms, the legal status of Hagia Sophia, the parliamentary bill on multiple bar associations, the Istanbul Convention, the LGBT and Generation Z debates and the declining performance of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. In addition to those hot topics, there are also two permanent features: early elections and potential shifts between electoral alliances.
The outrage over George Floyd’s death at the hands of a racist police officer, which triggered riots in 140 cities across the United States and forced President Donald Trump to threaten military action against protestors, highlighted the importance of "the streets." Attempts to reshape politics through street protests have repeatedly captured the world’s attention over the last three decades. The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, along with other anti-communist uprisings across Eastern Europe, was hailed as a new wave of democratization. Although that revolution resulted in Czechoslovakia’s partition, most observers celebrated its peaceful nature.
Coming to terms with the past is necessary for newly formed political parties in order to create an authentic platform. That settlement must be multidimensional and serve as a source of hope for voters. The particular challenge that the Future Party (GP) and the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) face isn’t to criticize the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), from which they broke off, or President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – or to show the courage to launch new movements. They have already crossed those bridges.
Recent remarks by Good Party Chairwoman Meral Akşener about the links between the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the PKK terrorist organization has sparked fresh controversy about the future of electoral alliances in Turkish politics. Recalling the HDP’s inability to distance itself from terrorists, she carved herself out some room to maneuver and revived questions about the possibility of a third electoral alliance emerging in the future.