CHP’s foxes strike back, setting the scene for trouble


All the variables are now at play.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is determined to keep its feet on the gas pedal, pushing the “solution process” further. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seems to have loosened up with regard to his deadline for the commission’s work in drafting a new constitution, indicating that it may be extended until the end of April.

The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the political wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), is on “standby,” ready to send its co-chairman, Selahattin Demirtaş, together with BDP deputy Pervin Buldan, to meet with PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who is also to meet with the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) team and his brother, Mehmet.

The fourth judicial reform package is almost ready and it is highly likely that the latest version may lead to the release of jailed PKK members, and maybe even those from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Meanwhile, after the European Commission’s open endorsement of the negotiation process with the PKK, France declared that it was unblocking an EU chapter, paving the way to a positive mood change in Turkey’s negotiations on EU accession.

So, even if there are growing doubts about whether or not Erdoğan is serious about the solution process and healing the wounds of what is widely seen as a judicial wrongdoing, a farewell to arms, a democratic constitution and an accelerated process towards full EU membership are now linked to each other.

But, one variable, in particular, and a key one in the entite constellation, is unsettling.

It is the CHP.

Now we know that the vacuum that Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the troubled leader of the CHP, left because of his ambiguous behavior on the issue, is quickly being filled by his predecessor, Deniz Baykal.

Baykal’s speech, drawing loud applause at a CHP group meeting, was a reminder of the Turkish political classes’ well-known discourse, filled with paranoia and conspiracy theories.

“Foreign powers are forcing us to abandon the nation-state and adopt a presidential system. There are attempts to abolish references to the Turkish nation in the new constitution. Once the [concept of] nation is removed, who will uphold sovereignty? The ethnic groups? There is no single country in the world that has handed over its sovereignty to ethnic groups. The pro-ethnic groups, the exploiters of religion, the liberals and the prime minister, who favors a presidential system, want this.”

One does not really have to analyze the inconsistencies, contradictions and conspiratorial mindset behind such a statement. Forget the content. It is all about Baykal’s shrewd, well-calculated timing to inflict harm on the CHP leader; his carving inside an already torn party to launch a new fight; widen the divide.

Kılıçdaroğlu was asked a simple question after Baykal’s move: “Where do you stand on the İmralı [peace] process?” His response was a lucid sign of defensiveness, “Nowhere.” Also responding with a “no” to a follow-up question asking if talking to GörselÖcalan was necessary, he retreated to his earlier position — from June 2012 — that “there must be a commission in Parliament and another one outside consisting of wise men.”

By doing this, Kılıçdaroğlu can be said to have withdrawn his support for the peace process altogether. With these words we have seen what was inevitable: The main opposition, whose clear stand — this or that — was needed to see a beneficial resolution for the process, is now sinking deeper into a crisis, which will have to be resolved through a confrontation.

It is not that the “old guard” — the profoundly conservative flank of ultra-Kemalists — of the CHP has become optimistic about winning over those who want to modernize the party. No. The main goal, as it was between 2007-2009, is to paralyze the CHP to a degree that it will make it as difficult as possible for the AKP to push for a new constitution.

It is a new “crisis policy” driven by the old establishment which is more about its fears of a new democratic order than a (semi-) presidential system debate. In short, the CHP is being forced to play its old role as a stumbling block, to remain part of the problem than a solution. It is brewing itself for a new period of high tension.




About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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