Government Crisis and its potential repercussions on the Resolution Process

Translated by: Turgay Bayındır /
Orjinal Metin (tr-3/28/2015)

The disagreements between the governing party and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that have been escalating step by step and that have the appearance of a "government crisis" have not been just limited to the Peace Process. Therefore, the fact that Yeni Şafak journalist Abdulkadir Selvi reminds us of the polemical arguments that Erdoğan entered into with the Central Bank, and of Erdoğan's opposition to National Intelligence Agency (MIT)'s secretary Hakan Fidan's candidacy for AKP primary elections is crucial. As an observer from within the party, the fact that Selvi concludes his article saying, "AK Party had a charm. Masses chose AK Party because it was the symbol of stability. This charm is disappearing" is without doubt also significant. In answering the question of what is the cause of these problems, another Yeni Şafak journalist Ali Bayramoğlu's article that appeared a day after Selvi's article can be very helpful. Bayramoğlu says, "The subject is always the same: the President ... The fact that the President enters into the legislative domain, his confrontational attitude towards the government and that he does politics against his own party ... The developments prove once again that the main crisis in Turkish politics is not about ‘the fundamental politics of the governing party’ but about the ‘increasing personalization of power’." 
Under normal circumstances, it was expected that, after Erdoğan became the President, Abdullah Gül would gradually take his place as the leader of the party and the head of the government. However, at this point, the phenomenon of what Bayramoğlu calls "increasing personalization of power" came into existence and Erdoğan did not want to choose the "higher profile" Gül. However, since then, Ahmet Davutoğlu has not at all shown a "low profile" performance as Erdoğan expected. (In this context we should particularly underline the occasion of Fidan's candidacy). Erdoğan's disappointment in his expectations regarding Davutoğlu must have had a big role in the development of this crisis in a surprisingly public and harsh manner.

What is bothering Erdoğan?
The most critical fault line between Erdoğan and the government is certainly the resolution process. The process has come to a dead end because of the President's harsh and public criticism of almost every step that the government has recently taken and moreover, his extremely harsh targeting of the Kurdish Political Movement (KPM), particularly Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and its co-president Selahattin Demirtaş.
The situation is so severe that those who have not been following might think that as soon as he became the Prime Minister, Davutoğlu started a process without the President's knowledge. However, Erdoğan himself is the architect of this process. And the officials who are leading the process on the part of the government have stayed more or less the same. The coordinator of the process within the government is Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan, who was one of the closest names to Erdoğan until recently. The "monitoring committee" that Erdoğan is against today has been on the agenda since the beginning of the process, and the names proposed for the committee have been selected from the list of people that Erdoğan had confirmed for the wise persons committee.
What is then bothering Erdoğan? I presume that this question has more than one answer. First of all, as I tried to explain on my article from March 12 titled "The Real Winner of the Resolution Process", if we do a combined calculation of various processes such as "democratization measures", "Oslo" and the "peace process", we would see that both sides of the process, AKP and KPM would come out as the winners while the opposing MHP and the hesitant CHP would be on the losing side.
However, if we do a comparison, it can be understood that the real winner is the KPM: the fact that the government would consider taking Abdullah Öcalan as a legitimate party to the process, that HDP is forcing the 10 percent threshold, that the leadership of Selahattin Demirtaş has been garnering followers beyond the Kurds, that PKK, under different names, has become one of the leading political actors in Iraq, Syria and Iran, that it has been successful in fighting against IS(IS), and in particular acquiring a glowing reputation in the international arena due to its women fighters, considered all together show that the KPM is experiencing its golden age, and that the above mentioned processes have a big role in it. The second issue that is bothering Erdoğan must be the fact that despite all these acquisitions, the KPM has been postponing to carry out the biggest expectation of the government, “the laying down of arms" by putting forth the condition that the government should take new steps. At this point we are faced with an interesting paradox: when Erdoğan publicly opposed the formation of a monitoring committee because he is bothered by the KPM's insistence on new steps, Öcalan made his newroz call for the PKK congress the only agenda of which would be "laying down arms against Turkey" for an indefinite date. From Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç's press statement immediately after the newroz call, we can reach the conclusion that if Erdoğan had not opposed the idea of a monitoring committee, Öcalan could have made an "urgent" call for the PKK congress.

The rise of HDP
One other important reason that is bothering the President is no doubt the fact that both HDP's and MHP's increasing potential to steal votes from AKP. The main tendency that has emerged in understanding and explaining the recent rise of HDP, is the assumption that those who hate Erdoğan but have lost all hope in CHP or MHP would be "reluctantly" voting for HDP in the coming elections will play a central role.
However, I am of the opinion that the driving force behind HDP's rise to the 10 percent threshold is the Kurds themselves - those who will be voting for the first time, those who are living abroad, and those had voted for AKP and, to a smaller extent, for CHP.      
Whether they are in the southeast, in the west or living abroad, the main reasons for the Kurdish voters' turn from AKP to HDP can be listed as follows:
1) the fact that the KPM has been completely legitimized by being taken as a party to the process by the government,
2) the fact that the Kurdish identity formation has been largely completed and widely circulated,
3) the fact that the movement under the leadership of Öcalan has become one of the main actors in the Middle East,
4) in particular the victory in Kobane and the attitude of the government leaders headed by President Erdoğan regarding the issue from the beginning,
5) the fact that Erdoğan reverted back to the point of "There is no Kurdish problem, there are problems that my Kurdish brothers have",
6) the fact that Erdoğan and many other leading names in the government, together with their partisan media have been targeting the leaders of the KPM, in particular Selahattin Demirtaş.

The rise of MHP
It cannot be said that the fact that the Resolution Process has reached a certain point but there are no strong signs for the possibility of the resolution in the near future has significantly harmed the KPM. We can even suggest that the KPM has taken advantage of this chronic suspension in the resolution process. On the other hand, the fact that the resolution has not been attained, and that PKK continues its armed existence against Turkey and in an even stronger form than in the past, could lead to the erosion of the credit that had been given to AKP and Erdoğan.
For this reason, the claims that there has been a shift of votes from AKP to MHP and that this has been a factor in Erdoğan's obvious change of stance in the Resolution Process need to be taken seriously. We know that Erdoğan has always taken public opinion polls seriously from the time when he was the President of Welfare Party's (RP) Istanbul Provincial Organization. 
Yet, at this point we encounter another paradoxical situation: Even though it is not obvious how Erdoğan's return to the "There is no Kurdish problem" point will affect the voting choices of the people closer to the Turkish nationalist ideology, it is highly possible that this attitude has accelerated the move towards HDP by Kurdish voters who were closer to AKP. In the meantime, some of the opposition representatives who are not able to correctly interpret the contradictions, arguments and crises among the leaders of the governing party have been misguided, for example, by quickly reaching the conclusion that the candidacy crisis of Hakan Fidan was an "orchestrated fight" display the same kind of shortsightedness regarding the issue of the crisis on the Resolution Process. According to them, Erdoğan is trying to attract the Turkish nationalist voters by publicly opposing the process while the government is insisting on the process in order to attract the Kurdish nationalist voters. 
If both sides of the government were displaying these attitudes in a calm and collected manner, this analysis could have been meaningful. However, each statement and each new step taken by the two sides is seriously harming and damaging both sides. Contrary to the proposition that "Erdoğan is trying to influence Turkish nationalists while the government is trying to influence Kurdish nationalists", it can very well be argued that Erdoğan is pushing Kurdish natioanlists while the government is pushing the Turkish nationalists away from AKP.  

Revision, Restoration, Reconstruction

For a long time, the government representatives have been pointing to the differences within the KPM as the main reason for the disruptions, uneasiness and problems in the Resolution Process. They have described Öcalan's attitude as positive while describing Kandil's (PKK-KCK) and HDP's attitudes as negative. The recent events clearly showed that it is the complete opposite. In this context, in addition to the disagreements between Erdoğan and the government, it is necessary to point out that the leaders of the ruling party positively highlighted the "Eşme ruhu" reference the most in Öcalan's newroz letter and that it was quickly and harshly disavowed by the Chief of Staff and that the government did not oppose to this stance. 

As it is obvious, the future of the Resolution Process will be determined mainly by the course of the crisis within the government. It appears that between the President and the government a middle ground has been established that involves better coordination regarding the Resolution Process, not voicing disagreements publicly, and continuing the process albeit at a very slow pace. As part of this middle ground, a supervising committee might very well be officially nominated and they might even go to İmralı. However, after all the turmoil created by the harsh and adverse statements made by Erdoğan, it seems extremely difficult if not impossible that Öcalan would call for a PKK Congress in a very near future, for example on April 15 as some within the government have verbalized.

We can summarize the most realistic scenario as follows: The process would continue with its ups and downs, preserving in the meantime the established status quo regarding the ceasefire, until the elections, and according to the results of the elections, depending on whether HDP would surpass the 10 percent threshold or not, how many seats AKP would win, and where MHP stands, the resolution process would resume, but definitely taking a completely different course. 

In short, after the elections we might see that the concepts of "revision, restoration, and reconstruction" that Öcalan verbalized in his newroz letter being used very often within the context of the Resolution Process as well.

Destek olmak ister misiniz?
Doğru haber, özgün ve özgür yorum ihtiyacı
Bugün dünyada gazeteciler birer aktivist olmaya zorlanıyor. Bu durum, kutuplaşmanın alabildiğine keskin olduğu Türkiye'de daha fazla karşımıza çıkıyor. Halbuki gazeteci, elinden geldiğince, doğru haber ile özgün ve özgür yorumla toplumun tüm kesimlerine ulaşmaya çalışmalı ve bu yolla, kutuplaşmayı artırma değil azaltmayı kendine hedef edinmeli. Devamı için

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