Signals of the new tensions

Just after the parliamentary elections, the issue of presidential election has become the most important subject again.

Signals of the new tensions
By Beril Dedeoğlu, Today's Zaman

Just after the parliamentary elections, the issue of presidential election has become the most important subject again. As of now, the system requires the president of the republic to be elected by the Parliament, and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) with its parliamentary majority bears this responsibility. However, some other important issues should be taken into account. The parliamentary majority didn't provide the AK Party the 367 seats necessary for quorum to be reached. As a result, the AK Party has a choice: to conclude a deal with the opposition or to face new general elections.

The AK Party can easily envisage new general elections, but the opposition can't. That is why the latter seeks a deal with the AK Party, in order to assure the quorum during the voting. If the Republican People's Party (CHP) was the only opposition party in Parliament, as before the elections, this kind of deal wouldn't be possible. But today the parliamentary opposition is represented by three distinct parties. First of all, the CHP, which has faced an enormous electoral defeat and which has proved that it has nothing to do with social-democracy. Secondly, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which has expressed its nationalist and ultra-nationalist views without being supported by the army and the bureaucracy, is also in the Parliament. Thirdly, Kurdish independent deputies, who say that they will not pursue a Kurdish nationalist policy, are now present in the parliamentary balance.

No one discusses any candidacy outside Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül's "probable" candidacy. But the voting can be labeled an "election" only if other candidates exist. Moreover, the problem is not only about the candidates. The presidential issue constitutes the general frame of two important debates. First of all, the AK Party should ensure the quorum of 367 seats. The MHP has already announced that they will participate in the session, even though they will not necessarily vote in favor of the AK Party's candidate. This position will allow the AK Party to elect its candidate to the presidency in the third round of voting. The MHP thinks that the unfair pressures toward the AK Party have increased its popularity. That's why the MHP has decided to stop this victimization in order to better play its opposition role later on. Nevertheless, the MHP's opposition methods are already being overshadowed by several unfortunate declarations.

The MHP has said that it will contribute to the AK Party's presidential election plans because they don't want the AK Party to make a deal with Kurdish parliamentarians -- this is the second big debate. The MHP claims it will not accept the election of the next president through the votes of secessionists.

Obviously the MHP's list of conflict has been established even before the first-ever meeting of the newly elected Parliament. Its list is marked by the tension between Kurdish and Turkish nationalistic lines. The MHP tries to provoke Kurdish members of Parliament and on the other hand Democratic Society Party (DTP)-supported deputies are stuck between Kurdish nationalists and liberals. They began their parliamentary career by declaring Turkish as their foreign tongue, thus damaging all hopes. In fact the MHP is waiting to see the AK Party's stance toward the DTP. During its election campaign, the AK Party promised to pursue Turkey's EU bid and democratization reforms, so it has no time to engage in a fight against Kurdish parliamentarians. The AK Party has to develop solutions to the Kurdish issue's many dimensions.

If the EU wants to contribute to Turkey's democratization process and weaken anti-European feelings in this country, it would be wisest for it to establish a policy inclining toward the AK Party and not toward the DTP.
Last Mod: 05 Ağustos 2007, 12:15
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