September 7, 2014

Will the CHP be able to fill the void?

Mümtazer Türköne

The Republican People's Party (CHP) congress, which convened on Friday in Ankara, is one of the indicators that things are not going well in the party. The CHP is not a homogenous party; it is rather a coalition of two parties or political wings. For this reason, intra-party struggle is just normal; but still, as the main opposition party, the CHP seems to be in decline.

The wholesale combat of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against the Gülen movement took the CHP out of the political stage. CHP voters still remain ambivalent vis-à-vis the combat Erdoğan has been performing by violating laws. The pro-government media are successful in paralyzing these voters. In the end, both Justice and Development Party (AK Party) voters and the Gülen movement are equally distant from the CHP. The CHP administration has been unable to appeal to its supporters with a consistent policy.

The police and judiciary were just doing their job when they carried out investigations on Dec. 17 and 25. Their job was to investigate serious crimes and ensure the prosecution of some government members. Erdoğan declared that those who did their job were members of the “parallel state” and blamed the Gülen movement for this; by doing so, he raised doubts among opposition circles, who should have paid greater attention to these investigations. The opposition was further confused by the release of the military servicemen who were prosecuted in connection with the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases. The ruling party, on the other hand, isolated those who did their job. Erdoğan blamed those who investigated corruption for staging a coup and launched a witch hunt against the Gülen movement.

This defense strategy by Erdoğan drove the CHP out of the political discussions. CHP members and figures are just now figuring out what happened to them. When the government declared the Gülen movement its enemy, Erdoğan argued that he was representing the people. In fact, the CHP should have been the subject of this challenge because they represented the opposition wing of the people and voters. The CHP remained impartial in this battle in order to avoid the impression that they were aligned with the Gülen movement. In this way, they stayed as an ineffective opposition actor.

Mahmut Tanal is a CHP İstanbul deputy. He waged a huge struggle to attract attention to the illegal practices in this case by the government. When the police officers involved in the corruption investigations were placed under arrest, he stood by them. He addressed the illegalities in this process to make sure that the people are aware of them. He proved the power and strength of a member of the legislative body in terms of dealing with illegal decisions and transactions. More than this, he attended the parliamentary sessions wearing a T-shirt reading “SI-FIR” (zero) in an attempt to show his support for the police officers who were unlawfully taken into custody. If the CHP had done what Tanal did in an organized fashion, the corruption investigation would not have been blocked so easily.

Since Dec. 17, the judiciary has been locked and blocked by Erdoğan. He insulted the judicial members who investigated the corruption cases by calling them appointed servants while praising himself as the only representative of the democratic will. To this end, there is an ongoing power struggle between the executive and legislative bodies and the judiciary, which is suffering from attacks against judicial independence. The CHP is unable to get involved in this struggle and play an effective role. What Mahmut Tanal achieved shows what the CHP should have done so far.

One of the fields where illegal practices play a role is the corruption regarding urban rentiers. There are two major issues on the agenda. As might be expected, both are relevant to the construction projects in forests in İstanbul. It is possible to launch a bold campaign to raise awareness among CHP voters on this matter and stop the illegal action in this area.

Every congress results in new pursuits. But there is no need for additional pursuits; there is a huge gap and void that the CHP is able to fill.

Editor’s note: Hizmet Movement Blog reaffirms its non-endorsement policy of the various viewpoints expressed throughout the articles that are solely shared for the convenience of the readers.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 07 September 2014, Sunday