Français | English

For the last few weeks, Erdoğan has been sketch­ing out the idea of a new con­sti­tu­tion­al reform for Turkey…

Out­side the con­stant need to sat­u­rate the polit­i­cal and media space, Erdoğan now mea­sures the dif­fi­cul­ties he may encounter with the MHP/AKP tan­dem should it only remain a gov­ern­men­tal car­tel, while an elec­toral base frays under the eco­nom­ic cri­sis, the approx­i­mate respons­es to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and the pover­ty engen­dered by these com­bined elements.

Pres­i­dent Erdoğan also needs to test the inte­ri­or poli­cial cli­mate and to influ­ence the cal­en­dar in his favor, while main­tain­ing the police and jus­tice stran­gle­hold, and even increas­ing the repres­sion against the Peo­ples’ Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (HDP) and its sup­port­ers. Search­ing for a “nation­al alliance” for a new con­sti­tu­tion opens up such a space. Even more sure­ly than does the new space pro­gram itself.

Up until now, the main oppo­si­tion par­ty in Turkey, the Repub­li­can Par­ty (CHP), has only expressed a pure­ly ver­bal and politi­cian oppo­si­tion, as has the Good Par­ty (IYI).

On the exte­ri­or, Erdoğan’s dia­tribes direct­ed against the Euro­pean Union, and France in par­tic­u­lar, have become less fre­quent. In the name of Turkey as mem­ber of NATO, he has even expressed per­son­al reas­sur­ances on the use of the S‑400 acquired from Rus­sia, propos­ing a “peace offer” on the top­ic, also valid for the new Amer­i­can admin­is­tra­tion. He has stepped back on the “gas” in the Mediter­ranean and accept­ed “nego­ti­a­tions”. On the finan­cial lev­el, he has also reit­er­at­ed “being open” to new Euro­pean invest­ments, once the cri­sis ends, tak­ing advan­tage of Ger­many’s wish to main­tain and devel­op eco­nom­ic relations.

If he is main­tain­ing his will to “fight ter­ror­ism to the end”, mean­ing fight­ing the influ­ence of the Kur­dish move­ment on the domes­tic as well as on the exte­ri­or scene, the offen­sive he had recent­ly pro­claimed against dif­fer­ent parts of Kur­dis­tan in Syr­ia and in Irak is cur­rent­ly sus­pend­ed on future rela­tions with the new Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent. This does not lead to a ces­sa­tion of the bomb­ings nor to back­room deal­ings in order to pre­pare future moves. The dis­play of aggres­sive nation­al­ist mil­i­tarism is domes­ti­cal­ly an indis­pens­able polit­i­cal guar­an­tee for the alliance in pow­er, reach­ing into what is always called the “deep State”. And when these bomb­ings cause “Turk­ish” vic­tims, he goes so far as to set up “the exe­cu­tion of hostages by Kur­dish ter­ror­ists” in order to obtain fresh inter­na­tion­al con­dem­na­tion of the PKK, use­ful for anoth­er step for­ward in Irak. This dis­play of agres­sive nation­al­ist mil­i­tarism is also an indis­pens­able polit­i­cal guar­an­tee domes­ti­cal­ly for the alliance in pow­er extend­ing to what is always called the “deep State”. It also serves to stay on the right side of a vast sec­tion of the CHP, always prompt to react “in défense of Turk­ish soldiers”.

In ear­ly Feb­ru­ary, Erdoğan thus declared he could envis­age launch­ing a project for “a new con­sti­tu­tion”. He appealed to all polit­i­cal par­ties, ask­ing them to unite at the nation­al lev­el in order to work at the re-writ­ing of the New Char­ter for Turkey.

How­ev­er, he knows full well that with­out a good sec­tion of the oppo­si­tion, such a project would fail through par­lia­men­tary chan­nels, even in the cur­rent pre­tence of what serves as a Par­lia­ment. And using the ref­er­en­dum route is just as risky in the circumstances.

Sezin Öney, a jour­nal­ist at Duvar, not­ed with per­ti­nence:

Cur­rent­ly, only 584 of the 600 seats in the Grand nation­al Assem­bly are occu­pied because some pro-Kur­dish par­lia­men­tar­i­ans of the Peo­ple’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (HDP) were stripped of their immu­ni­ty and impris­onned. The AKP and is coali­tion ally, the Nation­al­ist Action Par­ty (MHP), hold 337 seats in total, and 360 seats are required in order to hold a con­sti­tu­tion­al ref­er­en­dum. In order to leg­is­late on a new con­sti­tu­tion with­out a ref­er­en­dum, the approval of 400 par­lia­men­tar­i­ans is required.”

As does this jour­nal­ist, we pon­der the way Erdoğan will “clothe” a project he intends cus­tom designed for him­self. “Sim­ple”, answers Sezin Öney: “by call­ing again and agin on the good old effi­cient meth­ods”, (in Turkey as else­where), “nation­al­ism and con­ser­vatism”, which she qual­i­fies as “ide­o­log­i­cal mir­a­cle workers”

We can trans­late this as “Turci­ty and reac­tionary social with­drawals” and we will know which elec­toral cus­tomers Erdoğan is address­ing, and which polit­i­cal machiner­ies will fol­low in his footsteps.

If, for Erdoğan, “Euro­pean moder­ni­ty” is in the exam­ple of Hun­gary or of Poland, one can eas­i­ly guess the work­ings of the future wrap­pings around the “con­sti­tu­tion­al project”.

Artic­u­lat­ed with this vision: the refusal to see Turkey con­tin­ue to align itself on “exter­nal” deci­sions of jus­tice. Free­ing itself of the Euro­pean Court of which Turkey is how­ev­er a guar­an­tor. Don’t Poland and Hun­gary lead the way? And these “con­strain­ing con­ven­tions” such as the Istan­bul Con­ven­tion, also signed by Turkey? Recent­ly, this Con­ven­tion from the Coun­cil of Europe deal­ing with the pre­ven­tion and the fight against vio­lence toward women and domes­tic vio­lence, has been vio­lent­ly targeted.

The Duvar jour­nal­ist continues:

(…) As in Poland, the AKP gov­ern­ment has start­ed using the LGBTI+ com­mu­ni­ty as a scape­goat, expo­nen­tial­ly since last sum­mer. The AKP has plead­ed for the with­draw­al from the Istan­bul Con­ven­tion because it den­i­grates ‘fam­i­ly val­ues’ by sup­port­ing the rights of LGBTI+ (…). Today, the LGBTI+ scape­goat is back in Turkey with the recent demon­stra­tions at Bogaz­içi Uni­ver­si­ty. The com­mu­ni­ty is labelled as ‘ter­ror­ist groups’…”

(…) Will Turkey go as far as Poland by declar­ing LGBT-free zones? This ques­tion is still unre­solved, but it is more than like­ly that the AKP will choose to renew the ‘new con­sti­tu­tion’ from the angle of pro­tect­ing the fam­i­ly and reli­gious val­ues, as well as defend­ing Turk­ish nation­al­ism. Hun­gary did so suc­cess­ful­ly in 2010. It’s shiny new con­sti­tu­tion became effec­tive in the begin­ning of 2011…”

Observ­ing the way in which answers are for­mu­lat­ed from the depths of the mafia-inspired State to the lead­ers of the coali­tion in pow­er, and the fee­ble­ness of the reac­tions from the offi­cial oppo­si­tion, often more pre­oc­cu­pied by launch­ing its new pro­tégé, the may­or of Istan­bul – a moral­ist from every angle – one can fear indeed that this sug­ar icing will attract the ants.

A con­sti­tu­tion found­ed on “fam­i­ly and reli­gious val­ues”, stitched onto a judi­cial frame­work rest­ing on Turci­ty, and con­firm­ing the Pres­i­den­tial sta­tus, will be hard to argue against as such by a Kemal­ist opposition.

It would be just as dif­fi­cult for the “Euro­pean part­ner” to con­test what would be a deep­en­ing of theoc­ra­cy and despo­tism when it can­not even do so in its midst.

The ‘polit­i­cal evo­lu­tions” with­in the Euro­pean States are just as imprint­ed with these same cri­te­ria of nation­al­ist with­draw­al, the famous “nation­al sov­er­eign­ty”, by the “soci­etal right wings” — as reac­tionary as can be – both func­tion­ing against, yet allied to a lib­er­al­ism described as “glob­al­ist”.

Soon, it will be impos­si­ble to deter­mine who, of Turkey or of the ris­ing Euro­pean right extrem­ism, first ini­ti­at­ed these eggs of “return­ing fas­cism”. But the mech­a­nisms for brood­ing them are sick­en­ly familiar.


Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
You may use and share Kedistan’s articles and translations, specifying the source and adding a link in order to respect the writer(s) and translator(s) work. Thank you.
Daniel Fleury on FacebookDaniel Fleury on Twitter
Daniel Fleury
Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…