2015: A Lost Year for Turkey

17 September 2015

We are only three-and-a-half months from New Year’s Eve. The end of a year is usually a time for stocktaking, reflection and hope. Unfortunately, ending the year on an optimistic note would be next to impossible in Turkey since the past eight-and-a-half months have offered absolutely nothing to inspire hope.

On June 7, Turkey had parliamentary elections. At least the three preceding months were devoted to the depressing rhetoric of the election campaign. The election result was a disappointment for the Justice and Development Party (JDP) because the electorate denied them a fourth consecutive term with parliamentary majority. The logical solution would have been a coalition government. But in a country willfully and purposefully polarized, that was simply impossible. So we are going to have another round of elections on November 1.

If, and that is a very big if, Turkey can have a government to stay at least for some time following the November 1 election that would make a grand total of nine wasted months.

To make a long story short, if I were to write a book describing the year 2015 for Turkey, the following would be the titles of chapters: “ Authoritarianism”, “A Shelved Constitution”, “Polarization”, “Absence of Parliamentary Oversight”, “Separation of Powers Consigned to Oblivion”, “No Regard for the Environment”, “No Regard for Cultural Heritage”, “A Failed Foreign Policy, “Failure to Identify Friend/Foe”, “A Nose Diving Currency”, “Slashed Incomes”, “Mounting Foreign Debt”, “Terrorist Attacks” and “Potential for Instability”.

I may be the pessimist. The optimist could say, “We had a great year with two democratic elections within four months and on November 15-16 Turkey will host the tenth annual G20 summit in Antalya and that would be the jewel in the crown.”

I wish days, weeks and months would fly because I honestly can’t wait to be proven wrong on New Year’s Day …

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