Cracks in Turkish opposition: Chaos amidst chaos


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been in power for 20 years and has become a world-renowned leader, has won all the elections he has entered. Due to his electoral success, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) became the dominant party in Türkiye’s politics, just like Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LPD).

Defeating Erdoğan is a mission matter for players of domestic politics and opposition parties in Türkiye. Separately, the rivals of Türkiye are also highly invested in getting rid of Erdoğan. As the opposition parties are developing projects to defeat him, the Western powers, who have been playing with global politics at their fingertips, are also seeking a road to a world without Erdoğan.

Türkiye, under AK Party stewardship, has already transformed into a force to be reckoned with. Türkiye is well on its path to joining the echelons of the mightiest nations, having solved its critical infrastructure problems with its investments in health, transportation, technology, and especially with enviable leaps in the defense industry. Naturally, this is quite the problem for Türkiye’s competitors.

On the other hand, Türkiye’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) alone, does not have the strength to defeat the AK Party. For this reason, the CHP brought together almost all the parties in Türkiye under one roof against President Erdoğan and formed the Nation Alliance.

Unconventional ‘table’

The formation of the Nation Alliance, the opposition alliance comprising the CHP, Good Party (IP), Felicity Party (SP), Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), Future Party (GP) and the Democrat Party (DP) may seem like a positive political development at first glance. But their problem is that the cumulative vote potential of these parties can only reach 30-35% against President Erdoğan.

To have any chance in the elections, the Nation Alliance needs another party: the pro-PKK Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the candidates of which will run under the name of the Green Left Party (YSP) in the upcoming elections. However, such rapprochement has problematic areas in Turkish politics. The PKK was formed as a terrorist organization before. After fighting for 30-40 years, it also created a political party, the HDP, as a legal reflection of the underground organization. However, after establishing the HDP, the PKK did not give up being a terrorist organization, dealing drugs or killing innocent people. The PKK, which has been trying to destroy the Republic of Türkiye for many years, is also acting as a proxy army of the United States, serving American interests in Syrian territory.

Therefore, the Nation Alliance, also known as the “table for six,” has become the “table for seven” with the participation of the HDP, i.e., YSP.

The opposition bloc internally fought with each other for two years to nominate a presidential candidate. IP and HDP clashed, and CHP and IP were severely conflicted. Since IP Chair Meral Akşener was not satisfied with the progress of the opposition coalition, she left the “table” by raising an impetuous flag of rebellion the other month. As she left the table, she faced a lynching campaign, mainly by CHP members. No one knows what happened, who threatened Akşener or suggested her return, but she was back to sit at the table a few days after. It was a big crisis.

One of the members of the table for six with the largest vote share, the CHP, is referred to as the secular, left-wing and founding party of the Republic. The IP is known as the nationalist party. SP strives to introduce itself as a “Sharia party.” The GP has a backbone layer of religious conservatives, who have potential in Turkish society. On the other hand, DEVA presents the image of a liberal party closely associated with Western policies.

As if having six vice presidents in power was not enough, when the CHP Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu emerged as a presidential candidate of the opposition bloc, and amid resolving the big Akşener crisis, the table agreed on a system with eight vice presidents by adding Istanbul and Ankara Mayors Ekrem Imamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş.

In Türkiye’s past years of coalitions, when parties could not agree on sharing Cabinet roles, they used to establish brand-new ministries by splitting the responsibilities of the existing ones. Likewise, the CHP and its stakeholders created eight vice-presidential positions to reach an agreement well before the elections.

Dozens of identities in coalition

Although, at first glance, this unity seems to have created a motivation, I think the parties with such huge differences in ideological and political expectations and worldviews would face great executive contradictions in any prospective administration.

Furthermore, the HDP, which supports the table from the outside and has around 10% of the votes in Türkiye, has a stance in favor of the declaration of regional autonomy, the withdrawal of Turkish soldiers from Iraq and the recognition of the terrorist state they envision with the U.S. If they don’t pretend or deceive the people, all parties, except the HDP and the CHP, are against such a stance.

Every country has a national security policy, and the Republic of Türkiye has set its course as complete independence. I don’t know how long Turkish society would tolerate such a submissive mentality as the Nation Alliance could suggest that it will surrender the country to Western interests at a stage when Türkiye has set forth a route for true independence and has begun to bring its rivals to their knees.

While the CHP has a protectionist and statist attitude toward the economy, the IP and the DEVA have more liberal views. As the GP and SP have similar demands to AK Party in freedom of religion and conscience, the CHP’s Jacobean, secular, hard-lined fractions directly confront religious people and conservatives. Therefore, no matter what issue you bring regarding economics, foreign policy or security, dozens of ideologies and interest groups within the coalition would clash.

Contrary to many other commentators, I think YSP has almost no political demands in return while supporting the opposition bloc. The terrorist organization behind YSP is a separatist terrorist organization that aims at ethnic separation in Türkiye. The PKK has continued its life by taking advantage of the weaknesses of the state until today. The only expectation of the PKK from the YSP and the table is to ensure that Türkiye is transformed into a weak state loyal to the West, falling into unmanageable chaos as it was in the 90s. If Türkiye weakens and experiences an interregnum period, the PKK terrorist organization will return to its “good” old days.

On the other hand, the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which bombed Parliament on July 15th, 2016, and wanted to test democracy, also wishes to return to the country from exile. A political party comes to power, continues as long as it does its job, and transfers its position to its successor when it fails in power. However, if FETÖ members infiltrate the state again, the state structure they know very well would be too vulnerable. Therefore, there might not be a return this time.

By the irony of fate, not only the Western states but also the PKK in the east, Greece in the west and FETÖ, which bombed Türkiye’s Parliament, all want Erdoğan gone. This poses a legitimate concern about how an opposition bloc, with a seemingly unconventional structure and questionable support from foreign powers and terror groups, can instill any hope in the Turkish people for a promising government in the future.

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